Affirmative Action Debate


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Affirmative Action Debate

"A policy designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities." At first glance this definition seems to explain fairly well what affirmative action is and convinces the reader that it is done in good faith to help make up for past discrimination, yet affirmative action is accompanied by many different opinions. This paper will discuss the different viewpoints regarding affirmative action.

The film Brazil in Black and White talks about affirmative action and its introduction in Brazil. The University of Brasilia has just implemented this action and we see the journey of students applying under affirmative action to increase their chances of being admitted, as well as those who are not. Here we see various opinions. Karinny is "not against the quotas" and applies under it; unluckily for her she doesn’t look black enough. Yet we see the contrast with Iolanda who thinks differently, she says "some people try to take advantage of being black. They act like victims to get what they want. I'm against that.” Even though she does look black she doesn’t apply to the University of Brasilia under this system because she thinks it would be unfair. In brazil this action has been very controversial because its in the media, it estimated that for every one article in favor of affirmative action there is twenty against it. The attitude of people Brazilians was very similar to the attitude of American in March of 1961 when President John F. Kennedy implemented affirmative action. Many Americans were against this and for the same reasons as Brazilians, that it was unfair, yet those who would be benefited against it, for the most part, just like Brazil citizens.

This article titled “Affirmative Action” talks provide opinions both ways but mostly talks about opposition of affirmative action. It does recognize that "such program... [is] based on good intentions [but it will] do more harm than good"(par.4). It argues that it would actually no be equality because the fact of being one race would boost someone’s chances to et into a certain school, which "violates the fundamental American value of equality of opportunity"(par. 4). Another argument made against it is that and acceptance to college based on race would be as if Americans nowadays were having to pay for their ancestors mistake, because slavery was abolished under the 13th amendment, Americans against this feel like they haven't enslaved anyone so why should race matter?

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Yet those who are for affirmative action claim that under this many minorities will have opportunities that they "would not otherwise have had"(par 3.). This in a sense is true because many universities having a low enrollment of say black or hispanics will now have to give more spaces to such minorities that weren't there before. The last sentence of this article says that "preferential programs should focus on economic disadvantage, regardless of race (par. 5)." Stating that instead of the emphasize
being on what nationality you are it should be put on whether or not you can afford a good education.

In the article from the newspaper The Louisiana Weekly titled “Silence the Anti-Affirmative Action crusade” talks about Jennifer Gratz who was an “honor roll high

school student graduate with a 3.8 grade point average...[and] was denied admission to the University of Michigan in 1995.(par. 4)” This article talks about why affirmative action should be banned and provides both reason and an example as to why. She lost her spot to an applicant that was a minority group not because he had a better grade point average than her but because of his race. She took her case to the Supreme Court where they sided with her and found “the university’s point system for undergraduate admissions unconstitutional.(par. 6)” Her point of view is the same as to many of those against affirmative action: that race shouldn’t be an indicative as to whether or not you should be admitted to a university. Your accomplishments and grades should speak for themselves and whether or not you’re under a minority group and help add variety to such university shouldn’t be important. Yet it also presents the example of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who was “the city’s first… [Latin] mayor in 133 years.(par. 15)” She applied under affirmative action and many students saw him as sneaking “into UCLA through the back door.(par. 16)” but he “got out through the front door(par. 16)”. If it hadn’t been for affirmative action the chances of Villaraigosa being admitted into UCLA would have been far less and maybe he would know be working in a very different job other than mayor.


The article “Race (Still) Matters” also gives opinion from both sides, this time talking about the consequences of using affirmative action or not in considering admissions to school. A consequence of ending affirmative action is thought to “result in sharp drops in black and Latino enrollments(par. 2).” The article continues saying that if that were to happens it is certainly not because these minorities students are less talented than whites. The question therefore arise, if minority students are just as talented as whites then why such a low enrollments in universities such as University of California where only “21.7 percent come from black or Latino majority schools (par. 5)”? To attend such universities it is said that “the best way for a black or Latino student to get(par. 4)” in is by “attending a “white” high school. (par.4)”. Studies have also shown that if the high scool is predominantly a minority school “fewer Advance Placement courses… are likely to be offered”.

As seen through these examples the government has a hard decision to make should affirmative be enforced and make many Anglo- Americans angry and even feel like “America the Fair” is gone, or should they ban affirmative action and make many African Americans, as well as other minority groups, angry and feel like they’re being taken fro granted. Whatever the decision decided on thing is occur; controversy will not stop and many Americans will be angry and not in agreement with the decision made.

Brazil in Black and White. Adam,Stephan. Videocassette. PBS,2007

Morial, Marc. “Silence the Affirmative Action crusade” The Lousiana Weekly.

16 Oct. 2006. 30 Sep. 2007

Scott,Jaschik. “Race (Still) Matters.” Inside Higher Ed. 13 Aug. 2007. 5 Sep. 2007



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