Table of Contents
Despite the utilization of anti-discrimination laws for several decades, there remains widespread discrimination and inequality in many multi-cultural societies all over the world; nevertheless, for several decades, affirmative action has been a crucial additional tool to the creation and promotion of substantive equality and combating of discrimination. Affirmative action can be described as a group of public initiatives and polices, with the intention of eliminating present and past injustices, inequalities, and discrimination based on creed, sexual orientation, color, nation of origin, and race; it is the allocation of socially valuable resources in an ethno-racial preference (Bergmann, 1996). According to Brown (2005), affirmative action is the effort to usher members of certain underrepresented groups especially those that have borne the brunt of discrimination, into higher realms of participation in a given beneficial activity, that may or may not integrate preferential treatment. Affirmative action is a collection of guideline, police, administrative practices, and laws tailor made to eradicate discrimination that disrupts inherent equality of individuals and renders discrimination based on the assumption they are different or inferior in their nature (Beckwith and Todd, 1997).
The objective of affirmative action is to attain equality of outcome and equality of opportunity; the purpose of substantive equality is not just to treat or hold people in equal measure, nonetheless, it goes further and advances the needs of groups that suffer disadvantages in the society especially those that have sulfured for an extended period (Cahn, 2005). The successful completion of a certain aspect of affirmative action is not only dependent on which type of equality is addressed, rather also on the form of discrimination rendered (Graham, 2002). Affirmatives action tackles systemic discrimination, which takes place in different settings and environments throughout the society such as discrimination of a person based on race, gender, ethnicity, or origin in their place of work (Graham, 2002). Systemic discrimination has a stronger stronghold that individual discrimination especially on an institutional level (Brown, 2005). The presence of affirmative action lays bare the existence of limitations, while utilizing the law as means for solving social disputes; therefore, the main objective of affirmative action is to do away with deeply rooted social practices that hinder the progression of substantial equality in the society (Bergmann, 1996). The implementation process of affirmative action is friendly nature due to its conception of equality of opportunity, which aims to develop conditions that avail all individuals of the society equal access to social amenities and allows them to properly exploit these opportunities (Cahn, 2005).
Utilization of Affirmative Action
The utilization of state resources to nurture development and growth is an increasing common feature of developed and developing countries; through the provision of basic public services and goods, nations have adopted affirmative actions that uplift the standard of living of several demographics of the society (Bergmann, 1996). In this view, affirmative action is government sanctioned preferential policies directed towards certain unrepresented groups as designated by the government (Brown, 2005). Each distinct nation utilizes a different set of national affirmative action policies and programs to eradicate income inequality, discrimination, and poverty felt by different minorities and groups (Beckwith and Todd, 1997). Therefore, the different set of affirmative or positive actions that varies in definition and description especially concerning their implementation methods; in essence, many countries have put in place special measures that warrant the assuming the responsibility of affirmative action for ethnic minorities and disabilities (Brown, 2005). This programs a born from the point of view that simply banning discrimination alone is in some cases is not enough to eradicate the de-facto practice; positive measures to eliminate discrimination against groups or demographics purposefully discriminated against designed by countries are seen as productive and have high levels of success rates (Beckwith and Todd, 1997).
The necessity of affirmative action policies arises if there is violation of the principles of equality and justice; justice is the responsibility to enhance actions for the benefit of all and for correctional justice which is the practice of equitable conduct in order to maintain equality; equality is the notion of treating everyone equally irrespective of race or background. In several states, affirmative action programs have lifted the minorities, and other discriminated demographic into higher realms of participation with impacts of reversing earlier discriminations (Beckwith and Todd, 1997). In some instances, affirmative action intentions of restoration of diversity in situations where previously discrimination was practiced; such cases, are related to the discrimination of social justice and where fair balance was not upheld; it created new achievements and not punishments for past injustices (Brown, 2005).
The original intention of affirmative action as an outcome of the civil rights movement was the counteraction of racial discrimination, which was widespread at the time; preferential treatments was availed to African American displaying motivation and potential, but were barred from social mobility because of their color (Cahn, 2005). These affirmative action policies promoted the principles of equality, social justice, individualism and creed of liberty; it aided in combating nihilism, which was the catalyst to eradicating the core of racial discrimination (Beckwith and Todd, 1997). Furthermore, affirmative action went beyond simply removing racial barriers, as it was not sufficient to eradicating the consequence of racial segregation; it encouraged adequate minority presentation in public programs, employment, education and other social element (Bergmann, 1996). This meant laying in place adequate measures to eliminate widespread practices of religious, ethnic, and racial discrimination; it enhanced equal opportunity in employment to ensure application are treated equally taking to account minorities and disadvantaged groups (Beckwith and Todd, 1997).
Affirmative or positive has proven its success and for deeper effects, the development of economically disadvantaged groups in any nation should be integrated as a national polices and should be supported by all groups of the society. There are several affirmative action policies implemented around the world that display the success and efficiency of these programs is attainable in other societies if they are based on national consensus and supported by all key stakeholders. While opponents of affirmative action suggest that, the policy goes against the creed of equality for all; nonetheless, liberty for all as well as equality for all should integrate all manner of individuals especially those from different cultural background or race; opponents put a blanket of all individuals, a notion that is false and ill informed. While the intervention of affirmative action policies on minorities and certain groups can be viewed as inequality treatment, this justification of unequal treatment is based on a racialist history that exploited and oppressed certain demographics of the society. Therefore, interventionist policies and programs are rightfully utilized as a means to improve a bad situation; if such measures include inequality; to some extent, it is tolerable when it solves even a bigger inequality or injustice. While disputing affirmative action, many opponents overstate justice of procedure and the necessity of it being disassociated with history; they suggest it can solve to issues of interventionist policies that tend to favor certain groups of the society. In a similar manner, they utilize simplistic definitions on affirmative action that utilize terminologies such as reverse discrimination and quota, to highlight the redress function of the policy when it is implemented with uniformity to all individuals in the society. Nonetheless, it is evident that affirmative action policies have worked and its programs, although introduce measures that favor certain groups of the society, they have been very successful at eliminating inequality in the society; they are arranged to benefit the most disadvantaged groups.
- Beckwith, J. & Todd, E., 1997. Affirmative Action: Social or reverse Discrimination? Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books.
- Bergmann, R., 1996. In Defense of Affirmative Action. New York: Basic Books.
- Brown, P., 2005. “Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion: Some Observations on Recent Trends in Education, Employment, and the Labor Market”, in Work, Employment & Society, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 29-51.
- Cahn, M., 2005. The Affirmative Action Debate. New York: Routledge.
- Graham, D., 2002. Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America. New York: Oxford University Press.