Affirmative Action, A Social Issue
The black rights and women’s rights movements of the 1960’s fought against injustice and discrimination that had been suffered by minorities for years (Hudson). In response, President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925 in 1961, creating a Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and mandating that projects financed by federal funding would “take affirmative action” to ensure that hiring and employment practices were free of racial bias (Hudson). Two more executive orders in 1965 and 1968 prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, and gender, giving the federal government the power to enforce this prohibition (Hudson). However, in current times, affirmative action programs have suffered setbacks. Affirmative action in education has been abolished in Texas by court order, and in California and Washington it has been terminated by public referendum (Bybee).
Currently, the main question concerning affirmative action is whether or not it is the best way to combat inequality. Also: What groups should or should not have affirmative action? When will the problem be “solved” and affirmative action no longer necessary? While the United States is divided between 49% of citizens supporting affirmative action programs and 43% opposing them, many Americans have a difficult time even defining what affirmative action is (Gallup 2003). The term ‘affirmative action’ includes laws, policies, and programs designed to reduce or eliminate inequality (Hudson). Inequality is also a difficult term to define, but the fact that significantly fewer women and minorities enjoy high paying jobs, attend prestigious universities, and reside in wealthy neighborhoods makes it clear that race and gender affect the availability of opportunities in America.
Affirmative action is a divisive issue because it grants access to institutions and jobs based on innate characteristics such as skin color or gender, and is seen...