Is affirmative action necessary to achieve racial equality in the United States?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is, of course, a matter of personal opinion.  There is no way to prove objectively that a given answer is correct.  My own view is that affirmative action is not absolutely necessary to achieve racial equality.  Ideally, it would be helpful.  However, in our current racial climate, it may be counterproductive.

Ideally, affirmative action would help to bring about racial equality.  African Americans, and some others, would receive extra help for a relatively short while.  This would give them the “leg up” that they need to become equal to whites in all ways.  Once the proportion of blacks who are poor and disadvantaged fell to the same level as that of whites, affirmative action would no longer be needed.

In our current climate, though, affirmative action might not accomplish this.  Instead of bringing about equality, it can bring about more racial conflict.  Whites see affirmative action as unjust discrimination.  Blacks are angered by whites who seem to be denying that blacks need and deserve some help after centuries of slavery and discrimination.  This serves to drive the two sides farther apart, making true racial equality more difficult to achieve.

I would say that affirmative action would not be necessary in the first place if we were willing to spend money to help all poor people.  There would be no need for affirmative action if we were to spend enough on poor schools to give them all the things that rich schools have.  There would be no need for affirmative action if we were to spend enough to create effective job training programs and other such things that would help to pull poorer parents out of poverty.  In short, if we spent enough to truly help all the poor, we would not need to single out minorities for special treatment.

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