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Affirmative Action

Updated: Feb 27, 2021

Affirmative Action is something important for all students, teachers and parents, but a lot of people seem to gloss over the concept and do not have an understanding of what is academically happening in that context.

What is affirmative action in simple terms? Affirmative action is a policy in which an individual's color, race, sex, religion or national origin are taken into account to increase opportunities provided to an underrepresented part of society.

Polls that ask broadly about affirmative-action programs for racial minorities find most Americans to be in favor of them. Polls that specifically ask whether employers and colleges should take race into account when making decisions find that most Americans say no. These two patterns are contradictory.

But the contradiction disappears when affirmative action appears on the ballot. Again and again since the 1990s, voters have banned affirmative action. It’s happened in Arizona, California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington.

This year in California — America’s biggest blue state, where only 37 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white — progressive groups thought they had a chance to reverse the trend. They sponsored an initiative that would have repealed the state’s 1996 ban on Affirmative Action. And it lost in a landslide: 57 percent to 43 percent, based on the latest vote count.

The question we ask is "whether Affirmative Action is good for the country", and the answer is - as usual - not easy. People by and large in this country believe that Affirmative Action is anti-meritorious. So when college admission is at stake, only merit should be used to tip the scale; not an individual's color, race, sex, religion or national origin. The argument used by supporters of Affirmative Action is that we are a long way from equal opportunity for everyone, and that lack of equal opportunity manifests itself in lack of merit-based competitiveness.

Appeals court upholds Harvard's affirmative action policy

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