Affirmative Action Few social policy issues have served as a better gauge of racial and ethnic divisions among the American people than affirmative action. Affirmative action is a term referring to laws and social policies intended to alleviate discrimination that limits opportunities for a variety of groups in various social institutions. Supporters and opponents of affirmative action are passionate about their beliefs, and attack the opposing viewpoints relentlessly. Advocates believe it overcomes discrimination, gives qualified minorities a chance to compete on equal footing with whites, and provides them with the same opportunities. Opponents charge that affirmative action places unskilled minorities in positions they are
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Roger Wilkins, a member of the editorial board at The Nation, concedes, “Affirmative action, as I understand it, was not designed to punish anyone” (Wilkins 330). It is also unrealistic to believe that giving preferential job treatment to African Americans compensates them for the years of oppression their race has had to endure. In a article about affirmative action, Shelby Steele, a English professor at San Jose State University, stated, “The concept of historic reparation grows out of man‘s need to impose on the world a degree of justice that simply does not exist. Suffering can be endured and overcome, it cannot be repaid” (Steele 326).
One of the main goals of affirmative action was to help minorities improve their social standing. To some extent, affirmative action has succeeded in this endeavor. Today African- Americans and other minorities hold more high paying jobs and positions of power than when affirmative action went into affect. However, a number of recent studies and numerous experts on the subject point out that affirmative action is more detrimental to blacks than helpful. Shelby Steele, a expert on the friction between whites and blacks, states in a essay, “After 20 years of implementation I think that affirmative action has shown itself to be more bad than good” (Steele 223). The original intent of affirmative action was to put minorities on equal