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Affirmative Action Policies - Essay Example

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Affirmative Action Policies

Only in the late decades of the last century the federal government and the Supreme Court, Republicans and Democrats, and various human rights organizations implemented systematic approach to resolve the problem of discrimination in employment and education, but the results were usually inconsiderable. Racial conflicts and discrimination persisted as well as attempts to eliminate them. In the second half of the 20th century the latter were labeled as 'affirmative action' policies.

The origins of these policies dates back to 1961, when President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order number 10925 proclaiming the 'affirmative action' policy the central axis of the US employment and educational policies. The Civil Rights Act became the next step toward elimination of discrimination in the United States. After its approval in 1964, the necessity emerged to change a number of traditional policies and official procedures, such as seniority status and aptitude tests, which included discriminatory provisions. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed his Executive Order number 11246 stating that all government contractors and subcontractors were obliged "to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin". The order was immediately followed by a series of lawsuits that supported the policy of affirmative action. Thus, the Supreme Court ruling in Griggs vs. Duke Power Company case invalidated intelligence tests and several other discriminating criteria in employment. The newly created governmental institutions, the Office of Federal Contract, had to implement the order (Encyclopedia Americana, 1985: 241).
The contemporary meaning of the term 'affirmative action' has not changed over years. The initial purpose of affirmative action also remained unchanged: elimination of racial, sexual, ethnic, disability, or any other discrimination. In 1996, President William Clinton defined affirmative action as "an effort to develop a systematic approach to open the doors of educational, employment, and business development opportunities to qualified individuals who happen to be members of groups that have experienced long-standing and persistent discrimination" (Clinton, 1996: 131).
In the recent years the affirmative programs has become one of the most widely discussed domestic issues in the United States. A number of analysts tend to consider the affirmative action policy a very effective tool that significantly reduced discrimination against non-white and female population of the United States. However, there is also an opinion that the affirmative efforts have been nothing but a great illusion from the very beginning: the positive results were made up to justify huge sums of money spent on implementation of affirmative programs. Although both standpoints have seemingly strong arguments, it will be closer to the truth to state that affirmative action policies largely failed.





Main Discussion
First of all, there are credible data that demonstrates the increase in well-being of some representatives of racial minorities was achieved not at the expense of the white majority, but at the expense of other representatives of the same minority: "The civil rights movement, anti-discrimination ...Show more

Summary

The issue of interracial relations has always been probably the most controversial and difficult social problems of American society. For much of the last century, racial, gender, ethnic, and religious minorities have been facing legal exclusion and unequal treatment…
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