arguments used against affirmativeOne of the arguments used against affirmative action is that it is reverse discrimination. Do you agree with this argument or not? Explain your answer.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One argument made against affirmative action is voiced by African Americans themselves.  These are usually older people who had to achieve--even overachieve--in order to earn scholarships or find good jobs.  With Affirmative Action, they observe, younger African-Americans have become more complacent, knowing that they will be given an edge on scholarships and jobs.

Not too many years ago a young Caucasian woman from Michigan took her appeal on a discrimination case all the way to the Supreme Court.  She had been denied entrance into the School of Law of a Michigan University even though she had higher scores on the LSAT entrance exam than many minority applicants [this story is in the Time archives].  Because minorities received as much as 40 points for being minorities, they were admitted with lower scores after these 40 points and other points for different categories open only to minority applicants were given to them.

Like so many political policies made in the US, the pendulum swings either one way or the other.  In accord with post #3, at this point opportunities are pretty well available to everyone and all "bonus points" should be eliminated. 

After all this time, there is no such thing as "justifiable discrimination" because the younger generation must not be made to pay for the faults of previous ones.

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Big thumbs up to #4 -- this is exactly why many people think the time for Affirmative Action is over. The most important quote is this:

#4 said: "Because minorities received as much as 40 points for being minorities, they were admitted with lower scores after these 40 points and other points for different categories open only to minority applicants were given to them."

The United States has gone from being a meritocracy where hard work and skill are valued to an entitle...ocracy? That's not a word, but it should be. People growing up today think they are entitled to a job, to a large salary, and to excused scores on tests. This is not a racial thing; I live in Maine, the whitest state in the Union, and I am surrounded by lazy people who think they shouldn't have to work for their results. has a question/answer bit on this... it doesn't look like an approved topic, though, so take it with a grain of salt. Here also is an article from the LA Times, and a huge repository of information

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with post 3.  I think we need to look at other factors besides race.  Affirmative actions (at least, as it is now) is discrimination.  There is no way around this.  I don't think we can correct discrimination in our past by discriminating in our present and future.  Yes, people have different opportunities than others.  Let's look at those other factors rather than race.  Just because a person is white doesn't mean they have had a perfect life with wonderful opportunities and plenty of money.  Just because a person is non-white doesn't mean they have a lower socioeconomic status.  I agree there is a pattern of correlation between race and factors such as socioeconomic status, but correlation is not enough to justify blanket discrimination.  I think this goes back to the phrase "two wrongs don't make a right."  Discriminating against a race because someone of their same skin color once discriminated against another race doesn't make much sense.  We need to find other ways to diversify and equalize without discrimination.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That's a tough one.  Unlike Brettd, I"m not white (or at least I'm not all white and I don't look white).  I understand that there is prejudice out there and I believe that there is discrimination as well.  I agree with Brett that not everyone starts out with a level playing field.

However, there is no way to argue that affirmative action is not discrimination.  Obviously, it treats nonwhites differently than whites.  The question is whether it is justified discrimination.  Brett makes the argument that it is because nonwhites and women have been discriminated against in the past.  I'm sympathetic to that argument, but I would argue that we would be better off if we stopped using race and ethnicity to determine who needs help and started instead to look at wealth and opportunities to determine that.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Not necessarily.  Opponents of affirmative action policies assume that all parties start on a level playing field as far as race, gender, and socioeconomics.  The simple fact is they do not.  I could submit virtually all of American history as evidence.  Women are still paid less than men on average today.  Latinos are virtually non-existent in the upper levels of management and in government.  Latinos and African-Americans earn on average, way less than Whites.  It is not an equal society, never has been, and as a White male, I was born with considerable advantages, which I do not mind giving up once in a while in the interests of social justice.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I must admit I do have to agree with this criticism of affirmative action. To take an example from a different context, I remember talking with an Australian friend about how the indigenous population is automatically guaranteed a university place if they want one, no matter what their final results are from High School. She, on the other hand, had to work incredibly hard to get a good final set of results to get a place at university. Such positive discrimination is actually discriminating against other groups of people in an attempt to set historical wrongs to right.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All of the above posts give excellent reactions to affirmative action. It may be true that white males are still the highest paid of all sexes and races; however, I still find it highly unfair to punish people because of their sex and skin color, and reward others for differences. To provide minorities with boosted test scores in order to falsely improve statistical collegiate rankings is just as unfair as hiring or paying employees because of their gender or race.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm always interested in the coinage of new words, and as #5 has posited, the US has become to some degree an "entitleocracy."  If we're fortunate, individuals will be assessed on merit alone.  Trying to rectify historical wrongs by differentiating by race or culture was wrong, because it was reverse discrimination. The election of President Obama should lay the affirmative action question to rest.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that in some ways it is. Many places have quotas to fill (based upon the positions which need to be filled in order to show that the company/school is adhering to affirmative action laws. For that reason, some whites (as mentioned in post #4) are denied a position simply based upon the fact that they are not a minority.