Affirmative Action Debate Essay Research Paper Affirmative

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Affirmative Action Debate Essay, Research Paper Affirmative Action Debate Argument 1: backward-looking arguments + backward-seeks to compensate women and minorities for employment and education opportunities denied them because of past racist and sexist practices. For example, President Lyndon Johnson provided the analogy of the “shackled runner.” In this analogy, Johnson presents a situation where one of the runners in a hundred-yard dash has his legs shackled. He was able to run only 10 yards, while his opponent ran 50 yards. How should this situation be rectified? Will it be enough simply to take off the shackles? Affirmative action seeks to start the race all over again, by allowing both runners to begin on equal footing. Yes, it can be argued that the runner that was

at an advantage will be wronged by this new start and will be unfairly paying the price for the shackling of his opponent, even though he may not have been responsible for the shackles themselves. But, whether he was responsible or not, the unshackled runner gained an advantage because of his opponent’s disadvantage, and he cannot continue to claim that his benefits are strictly merit-based. In applying this to our present situation, almost all white males have benefited from past and present discrimination, and while it can be argued that they have no responsibility to make reparations for past wrongs, the fact that they still receive an advantage remains. Is it wrong for some members of our society to continue to benefit from a system that caters to those who are already

advantaged while those without benefits continue to be denied those same opportunities? Yes-in a society based on supposed equality of opportunity, it is unfair to see the inequalities that exist and build up over time and simply allow them to continue to fester. Affirmative action seeks to chip away at these unfair advantages that continue to accumulate in order to bring both runners (to continue the analogy) back to equal footing. Points to consider for rebuttal: o We are not saying that all white males are prejudiced and purposely seek out their advantage. At the same time, however, there is a basic value associated with justice that strengthens the backward-looking argument. o We understand that the damage done by racism and prejudice cannot simply be compensated for by

measurable means; however, this is not to say that no compensation is deserved whatsoever (i.e. we know we can’t solve the entire problem, but we have to start somewhere). Argument 2: forward-looking argument + forward- seeks to achieve a more equal society by providing preferential treatment to those who are not as advantaged and as a result, benefits all society in the long run. 1. Even without looking at the past, we can see that inequalities of opportunity exist for minorities and women. 2. Denying someone an equal opportunity to achieve is wrong (because it keeps them from achieving their potential). 3. Affirmative action seeks to use preferential treatment to attain equal opportunities for all races and genders. 4. Diversity is a benefit to the labor force and the

academic community because it provides role models for all students and increases the different perspectives that will be shared. — stick in statistics that show inequalities that exist now and places where affirmative action has been used successfully. 5. Through preferential treatment, affirmative action will increase the diversity in the labor force and the universities, thereby improving society. While it might be argued that less qualified applicants will receive positions that could have otherwise gone to better qualified whites or males, this is not necessarily the case. Affirmative action simply allows race to become a qualifying factor in order to rectify some of the existing inequities. Race is most often used in preferential treatment when the applicants are equally