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Ellie Bolander
Soc 112
November 9, 2013

Counterpoint Assignment: Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is an equal-opportunity employment measure set by the
United States government to keep employers from discriminating based on race,
sex, ethnicity, and religion. It was adopted in the early 1960s. It was to help ensure
that all applicants could be employed, no matter their circumstance. It was
originally created with the intent to help African-American workers, but was later
applied to all minorities of race, ethnicity, sex, sexuality, and religion.
I believe that affirmative action is an effective policy that can help and has
helped many minorities receive help to become equal. In 2000, the statistic in the
workplace was that Latino men made $100 less than black males, who made about
$100 less than white males ("Affirmative action," 2009). This shows obvious income
inequality, even after the Civil Rights movement and equality for blacks. The hope is
that income will be made equal through efforts to help minorities get to the same
socioeconomic standing as the white majority.
The American Civil Liberties Union says, Affirmative action is one of the most
effective tools for redressing the injustices caused by our nations historic
discrimination against people of color and women, and for leveling what has long
been an uneven playing field. A centuries-long legacy of racism and sexism has not
been eradicated despite the gains made during the civil rights era. Avenues of

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opportunity for those previously excluded remain far too narrow. We need
affirmative action now more than ever. ("Affirmative action," 2009)
However, there are views against affirmative action. In Terry Eastlands
article, The Case against Affirmative Action, he says, How can blacks living today
who are not the descendants of the victims of past racial discrimination be owed
the compensation of affirmative action? Similarly, how can whites living today who
are not the descendants of slave owners or segregationists be morally obligated to
pay for affirmative action by losing out on a promotion or a place in medical
school? These are all viable questions (Eastland, 1992), so lets look at some hard
The most popular argument against affirmative action is that it is actually
becoming a disadvantage to black and Hispanic students. When they begin school,
they struggle academically, including lower GPAs, being less likely to be an honor
student, and more likely to be on academic probation (Perry, 2012). Minority
students with previously good grades have just as much ability to get into a
university as majority students with good grades, but minority students with lower
grades that apply are more likely to get in than majority students with lower grades
because of affirmative action in university admissions and trying to level out the
playing field simply because of their minority status.
In addition, the Macionis text mentions the case of Allen Bakke, a white man
whose admission to the University of California at Davis medical school was denied.
He claimed that it was because of the schools rigid racial quota (reserving 16 out of
every 100 spots for minorities) that he was unable to gain entrance. Because of this
case, the Supreme Court ruled that set numbers in a racial quota that were as firm

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as UC Davis were illegal, but they allowed the use of race and ethnicity in the
admissions process to help expand schools diversity (Macionis, 2013). Many
schools around the country dont even allow that as a factor and the fight against
affirmative action continues.

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Works Cited

Affirmative action. (2009). Retrieved from

Eastland, T. (1992). The case against affirmative action. Informally published
manuscript, William &
Mary Law School Scholarship Repository, William &
Mary Law School, Williamsburg, VA,
Retrieved from
Macionis, J. (2013). Racial and ethnic inequality. In C. Campanella (Ed.), Social
problems (5th ed., pp. 7879). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Perry, M. (2012, October 15). The downside of affirmative action: Academic
mismatch [Online blog].
Retrieved from