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Affirmative Action - Unjustifiable Reverse Discrimination, or Justified Compensation for Centuries of Oppression?


DonRocks
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When I was younger, I felt that Affirmative Action was wrong - that it was just perpetuating the problem of discrimination. Now that I'm older (wiser? kinder? softer?), I see legitimate arguments for both sides. In particular, I see people of color having been financially penalized for centuries, and white people having profited and having accumulated wealth because they had what is essentially free labor.

Do we owe black Americans financial compensation for what we, as a society, did to them? Perhaps in the form of Affirmative Action? Even if it means costing a more-qualified white person a job and giving it to a less-qualified black person? (I'm not saying "give it to just anyone," but there are plenty of black people who, even if they aren't *the* most qualified, are still very worthy of placing into a position.) And yes, it sucks that a more-qualified white person has to get the short end of this stick, but their ancestors got the long end of the stick for hundreds of years, resulting in wealth that has passed down through families.

I've actually *taken* affirmative action on this website: I wrote the local chapter of the NAACP, and asked them how to increase black membership, which I very much want to do. (I never heard back from them.) I tried, and I'm willing to try again, but I don't know what to do.

My views have changed on this subject over the years. I firmly believe that black people (I hope I'm using the correct terminology here - I honestly have no idea) have gotten shafted for so long that it has created a culture of lower-class (I'm talking lower financial class) citizens that would not have been lower-class had their ancestors been given a fair chance. Let's get real: not only weren't they "given a fair chance"; they were *slaves*, for God's sake.

Do I feel personally responsible for slavery? Hell no. Do I feel like as a society, white people have reaped financial benefits from oppressing black people? Hell yes. The question is: What to do about it?

All intelligent, thoughtful discussion, on both sides of this issue (and yes, there are at least two legitimate sides to this issue, with lots of gray area in between), is welcome and encouraged, and I look forward to reading your thoughts. Issues such as this need to be addressed head-on, without fear of retribution for discussing them. There will be no censorship of thoughtful opinions or viewpoints.

Without actually "knowing," I know that this website has a very low percentage of blacks - I hate that fact, and want to change it, but I don't know what to do.

I honestly don't see this issue as being political in a "conservative vs. liberal" sense; I see it as being moral. I'm not sure what's right, and I'm not sure what's wrong. I'm not sure what's fair, and I'm not sure what's unfair. All I'm sure of is that I want everyone to have an equal chance in this world, and that hasn't happened in the past.

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Affirmative action isn't atonement for centuries of oppression and discrimination. It's meant to combat systematic disadvantages minorities have in the hiring process. There are hundreds of reasons for this, everything from overt discrimination to a lack of knowledge about the quality of traditionally black colleges. That disadvantage is well documented but not well understood.

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Affirmative action isn't atonement for centuries of oppression and discrimination. It's meant to combat systematic disadvantages minorities have in the hiring process. There are hundreds of reasons for this, everything from overt discrimination to a lack of knowledge about the quality of traditionally black colleges. That disadvantage is well documented.

I believe you, but could you cite some respected articles or sources? (For my own edification; not because I need "proof.")

And do you think there's any overlap between the reasons I gave, and the reasons you give? I would say that "systematic disadvantages minorities have in the hiring process" are a result (direct or indirect) of "centuries of oppression and discrimination." I may be wrong (admittedly, I'm just now starting to think in these specific terms, it's late, and I'm very tired), but there seems to be a causality here, or at least some sort of relationship.

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On 9/8/2015 at 9:22 PM, DonRocks said:

I believe you, but could you cite some respected articles or sources? (For my own edification; not because I need "proof.")

And do you think there's any overlap between the reasons I gave, and the reasons you give? I would say that "systematic disadvantages minorities have in the hiring process" are a result (direct or indirect) of "centuries of oppression and discrimination." I may be wrong (admittedly, I'm just now starting to think in these specific terms, it's late, and I'm very tired), but there seems to be a causality here, or at least some sort of relationship.

This is a good primer.  And, yes, "centuries of oppression and discrimination" is one of the causes, but not the only one.  Sometimes its as subtle as an interviewer being better able to relate to guy or girl from his or her neighborhood, college, fraternity, etc.  In the aggregate, it means that it's harder for a minority to get the position.  The idea is that you take affirmative steps to combat those forces.  Sometimes it's quotas, but these are clumsy and have lost favor.  It could be as simple as holding a minority college fair or giving greater representation to minorities in the hiring process.

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