One 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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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is, of course, a matter of personal opinion.  Let me give arguments for both sides so that you can decide for yourself which side you agree with.

On the one hand, many people feel that affirmative action is reverse discrimination.  (Or that it is simply discrimination without the qualifier “reverse.”)  Discrimination occurs when you treat one group of people differently from another group without any reason for doing so.  In the minds of opponents of affirmative action, it is reverse discrimination because it treats whites (or men) differently from minorities (or women).  It gives preference to the minority groups without them deserving those preferences.  In this view, the members of minority groups today have not suffered from racial discrimination nor have white people today benefitted from it.  Therefore, minorities do not deserve the preferences and whites do not deserve the burdens of affirmative action.

On the other hand, supporters of affirmative action argue that there is a reason for treating the groups differently.  Therefore, it is not discrimination.  We do not call preferences for military veterans “discrimination” and we should not call these preferences discrimination either.  The reasoning here is that minorities continue to suffer from the effects of racism and racial discrimination.  To be sure, racial discrimination is not practiced legally anymore, but this point of view holds that racism still exists and that more subtle forms of discrimination still disadvantage minorities (and women).  Therefore, from this point of view, affirmative action is not discrimination but more a matter of leveling the playing field.

So, the issue is what you think.  Do you think that racism and racial discrimination (and sexism and sexual discrimination) are still enough of an impediment to minorities (and women) to warrant affirmative action programs?  I, personally, am not sure.  I have experienced racism, but not (to my knowledge) racial discrimination.  (But I am brown, not black and I am not a woman so I cannot really know what it is to be a member of those groups.)  I can’t make up my mind on this one.  What do you think?

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