Affirmative Action

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Affirmative Action

Robert K. Miller, author of The Informed Argument, describes affirmative action as, “an active effort to help members of historically oppressed groups gain admission to American universities and entrance into a diverse range of jobs previously reserved for white males” (145). Miller also states that this was the thinking of the 1970s civil rights movements (144). Things have changed throughout these past 30 years. Society’s way of thinking has changed so much that logical protest has risen against affirmative action by both protesters and supporters of the action alike. Constance Horner, a quest scholar in the Brookings Governmental Scholars program and publisher of “Reclaiming the Vision,” which can be found in The Informed Argument, is an opponent of supporting affirmative action. Michael Tomasky, author of the excerpt, “Reaffirming the Vision,” which can be found in The Informed Argument, from his book, Left for Dead: The Life, Death, and Possible Resurrection of Progressive Politics in America, is a supporter of affirmative action. Proving that affirmative action needs to be abolished or improved is something to debate, which Horner and Tomasky do in their written opinions.

Constantine Horner explains that affirmative action is causing the opposite result today from its intentions 30 years ago. The loss of jobs for white Americans has opened the floodgates of protest. The mere suggestion of a reformation of the civil rights result has caused a rising distrust in the black American community towards the politics involved. What black Americans don’t see, Horner believes, is the misplacement of under qualified participants in overwhelming situations. The need to fill race quotas has put under qualified applicants in positions at places of employment; therefore, making it harder, if not impossible, for the employee to receive promotions. The placement of a person in a university based solely on the color of their skin has caused “a college dropout rate for blacks of almost two-thirds” (Horner 150). The resolution Horner gives is to be patient and to evolve and change, just as Americans have been doing, as long as we are moving forward with progress.

Michael Tomasky gives the hint that maybe he is willing to see affirmative action changed, if even so slightly, but the feeling he gives in his excerpt, “Reaffirming the Vision,” was one not of a man to let his belief be easily swayed. Tomasky lets the reader know what side he is on by saying, “from a pro-affirmative action point of view” (153).

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Reluctantly agreeing with affirmative action being an aid to all minorities as well, Tomasky believes that black Americans are owed reparations for the 250 years of slavery and oppression. When affirmative action was brought to the judicial system it was intended to be reparation for black Americans. Throughout the 30 years of its activity, affirmative action went from reparation to a diversity action. Now a diversity action, affirmative action could be corrupt by wealth minorities instead of helping the less fortunate black American. Because of this corruption, affirmative action reformation needs to happen. Tomasky suggests it should aid the less fortunate instead of certain races. Giving inner city residents (whether they are white, black, or any other race) an equal opportunity to be educated and work where they wish.

The two arguments give way to many solutions and suggestions on what affirmative action’s place is in today’s society. The differences in opinion just point out the fact that racial diversity, as well as equal opportunity, in America still needs to be worked on. How people, especially the people who are affected the greatest, deal with the transition period is vital considering American is the leading country that other countries look up to in this world. In the end we all have to find a way to work together in a working integrated society.

Works Cited

Horner, Constance. “Reclaiming the Vision: What Should We Do after Affirmative Action?” The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert K. Miller. New York: Harcourt, 1998.

Tomasky, Michael. “Reaffirming Our Actions.” The Informed Argument. Ed. Robert K. Miller. New York: Harcourt, 1998.


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