Free «Affirmative Action is Useless» Essay

Affirmative Action is Useless


Affirmative action basically involves giving preferential treatment to minorities when it comes to university admissions or employment in businesses and government. Initially, affirmative action was introduced to correct several years of inequity, as well as to give a boost to the underprivileged. Owing to the current diversity of the American society, which is different from what it was about 50 years ago, the programs seem to have been successful. However, most Americans are of the view that the policies are no longer necessary, since they lead to more problems.

Critique of Arguments for Affirmative Action

The Compensation Argument

Some people are of the view that black Americans have been severely harmed and wronged by white Americans, and so they ought to be compensated, in terms of preferable hiring, admission to colleges and granting scholarships. By and large, this argument involves an imprecise concept of compensation (Shaw 434-442). Compensation is usually extended to people who were unfairly debilitated by the society. For instance, West Germany paid the compensations to survivors of Nazi concentration camps. In this case, specific people had to be identified.

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Therefore, the demands by black Americans for reparations are not in line with the usual pattern. In any case, much of the discrimination meted on black Americans was not a result of state action; on the contrary, it involved private discrimination. Additionally, even if identifiable black Americans were affected by certain social practices, it can never be clear that a number of affirmative action policies are apposite to reinstate the situation (Messerli).

The Argument against Meritocracy

According to this argument, the competent in the society do not deserve their intelligence, their superior character, or their discipline. As a result, such people have no right to good positions in the society; therefore, it is not unreasonable to give these positions to the less competent minority groups.

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Basically, this argument is wrong in its nature, as it states that since no one deserves anything, the society can, therefore, use whichever criterion it wishes to distribute goods (Messerli). Thus, it is illogical to distribute goods on the basis of skin color, instead of merit. In essence, the society must not ride roughshod over people’s qualifications in awarding jobs and positions as it sees fit.

Why Affirmative Action is Detrimental to the Society

It Reverses Discrimination

Affirmative action actually leads to reverse discrimination. Though it is intended to bring discrimination to an end, affirmative action in effect does the opposite. White Americans who are more qualified or work harder end up going through stricter regulations, simply because of their ethnical belonging (Shaw 434-442). Contrary to many stereotypes, the programs lead to minorities falling in the middle or upper class, with many white people ending up in abject poverty. As a matter of fact, a poor white student who works hard to achieve good grades is likely to be passed over by an affluent minority student who is lazy, and does not put in much effort at all (Messerli).

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It Lowers Accountability Standards

Over and above, affirmative action lowers the standards of responsibility which are required to propel individuals to perform better. For instance, if a minority student can get admission into Harvard University with a 3.2 grade-point average, there is no need of pushing himself/herself to get a 4.0. In as much as a number of employees or students are self-motivated, some, however, require extra motivation to perform better (Messerli).

Consequently, setting lower standards for hiring or admission lowers the accountability standards. In essence, the society ought to recompense hard work, achievement, and discipline. On the other hand, a student ought not to be rewarded simply because he/she comes from a certain race, neither should another student be punished because he/she is not of a particular race (Doane, & Bonilla-Silva 228-30).

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It Devalues True Accomplishments by Minorities

It is worth noting that affirmative action demeans true achievements by minorities. This basically implies that their success will be labeled to be resulting from affirmative action, instead of capability and hard work. Great people like Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Oprah Winfrey and Barrack Obama did not get to their positions as a result of affirmative action; rather they were able to attain their achievements by hard work and discipline (Shaw 434-442).

In this regard, it would be wrong for somebody to suggest that they got their social positions as a result of affirmative action. Basically, achievements are demeaned by people who believe that special treatment got them to their positions. It is, therefore, imperative for minorities to work even harder to earn respect.

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It is Insulting to Minorities

Giving preferential treatment to minorities when hiring or admitting into colleges in effect means that they are not intelligent or incapable of achieving on their own, and so they have to be assisted (Messerli). Patronizing and slighting implies that minorities are not able to accomplish their aspirations through capability and hard work.

It is Difficult to Get Rid of

Once it is brought into force, removing affirmative actions is very difficult, even after its objectives have been realized. It is worth noting that as times change, a society is likely to learn and develop. It is possible to soften racist mind-sets, just as it has come to pass in the United States (Shaw 434-442). It is agreeable to all that the United States is not where it was a couple of decades ago. In virtually every sector of the American society, racial discrimination is dying down. As a matter of fact, most Americans voted for a black president in the 2008 general election.

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Ironically, even after making several strides, affirmative action policies are still in force. As a matter of fact, a vast majority of Americans believe that affirmative action is no longer necessary. However, it has become very difficult for lawmakers, as well as different departments of the government to come to a consensus (Messerli). Additionally, bribery and special interest groups negatively influence the government into inaction.

Abolishing Affirmative Action would be Instrumental in Leading to a Color Blind Society

Unless an individual is applying a modeling or athletic position, aspects like height, hair, eyes or skin color should not be decisive, since these aspects do not affect one’s ability to perform at school or at work (Doane, & Bonilla-Silva 228-30). As matter of fact, there is practically no association between hair/eye/skin color and intelligence, ambition, discipline or character. Consequently, the society should not draw attention to these traits.

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Affirmative Action Relation to Small Businesses

In any business, affirmative action involves the steps that ought to be taken by employers that include women, minorities, veterans as well as people with disabilities (Shaw 434-442). This comprises training programs as well as educational and outreach efforts that are meant to benefit the underrepresented populations. In this regard, affirmative action is meant to provide equal opportunity to historically underrepresented populations (Shaw 434-442).

In accordance with the law, employers are required to record and successfully execute an affirmative action plan. They are also supposed to update the program to make sure that they comply with the Federal Equal Opportunity Laws (Shaw 434-442). In most cases, employers have to rely on statistical information about the availability of qualified minorities within an employment area.

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In this regard, a percentage of women and minorities has to be determined, as well as the skills needed for each job classification. In as much as it is intended to create equality, it compels employers to potentially overlook highly qualified applicants in favor of minorities. As a result, this leads to high turnover especially if the position turns out to be a poor fit, or if the applicant performs dismally.

Additionally, affirmative action requires that employers should meet certain goals as well as timetables for hiring and/or promoting minorities. In this way, an employer is likely to be coerced to make hiring decisions on the basis of numbers and not the overall qualification of the applicant (Shaw 434-442). This eventually results in an increase in competition for well-qualified applicants since employers end up directing job postings towards minorities to boost applications from these groups.











Again, the affirmative action policies in small businesses put a lot of emphasis on racial issues instead of focusing on how a potential employee will carry out his duties in a particular position (Shaw 434-442). Additionally, a lot of attention is drawn to past issues. It ought to be noted that in as much as racial issues may still exist in the business world of today, affirmative action policies are not able to fully take back racial inequalities of the past or even entirely get rid of them in the future (Shaw 434-442). However, in spite of its imperfections, affirmative action enhances ethnic multiplicity in the place of work at a faster pace than normal market forces.


Proponents of affirmative action argue that it is effective in reversing the negative effects caused by several years of discrimination; however, reverse discrimination should not be used to fix events of past discrimination. On the contrary, it is only detrimental to the society at large. In today’s society, no group must be favored over other group on the basis of skin color. As it was not right when employers and schools favored people of white origin in the past, so it is also wrong to favor minorities in this generation. The education system as well as the business fraternity should be blind to race when selecting employees and students alike. Ultimately, the blind method creates the most excellent and the most competent group of individuals. This basically implies that affirmative action should be abolished. 

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