Affirmative Action: Right or Wrong?

The definition of affirmative action is, according to Groliers Encyclopedia, "a formal effort to provide increased employment opportunities for women, and ethnic minorities, to overcome past patterns of discrimination." The following is a debate on the issue of affirmative action. Please add your voice: send e-mail to with the words "affirmative action" in the subject line, and if appropriate, we'll add your comments to the debate. Thanks!

FOR: Affirmative Action decreases discrimination and provides opportunities for may minorities.

AGAINST: Affirmative action is wrong and it adds to discrimination by counting the number of minorities instead of worrying about the people who might be more qualified for the position.

FOR: Minority applicants don't always get a fair chance and they are overlooked because they are not part of the majorities, who hold the economic and political power in a America.

AGAINST: Different people are good at different jobs, and the minorities should try to find a job that they would be better in, and they shouldn't get special treatment, so the qualified people can get the job they deserve. If qualified people are also members of a minority group, then so be it!

FOR: The minorities are just as qualified as the majorities, but they are passed over for jobs. They would be equally as qualified if they had equal opportunity and if they had the chance to go to the same colleges and further their education as the majorities and as white people have had since our nation began.

AGAINST: In the University of California vs. Bakke case, Allan Bakke applied twice to the college and was denied because they needed space for minorities. Sixteen out of one hundred positions were saved for minorities. He didn't get in because all of the positions were reserved for the minorities. That proves that minorities do have and equal chance.

FOR: What if the minorities are qualified and there are no positions for them because the positions have already been filled by majorities.

AGAINST: Positions are not taken away by whites. If they are qualified, they should have an equal chance to get the job or position, but what we are saying is that everyone should get a chance, minority or majority.

FOR: If quotas are the same as reverse discrimination, how can that equal change be provided with reasonable certainty.

AGAINST: Yes, the minorities do get a chance, but if they aren't qualified, they shouldn't take away a good opportunity for the qualified people to advance in the field they are good at.

FOR: We are not asking for unfair treatment, but we do want equality under the law. The fourteenth amendment: " Defines American citizenship. Prohibits the states from depriving any citizens of due process of law, equal protection of the law, for any other privilege guaranteed to United States citizens.

AGAINST: That is also what we want, but we feel that Affirmative Action adds to discrimination, by not giving qualified people what they want.

FOR: The qualified people should help the unqualified people, so they can get the same opportunities as everyone else.

AGAINST: What obligation do I, as a member of the white majority, have to helping my competition? The minorities do get help from the white majority, but if they don't ask why should we help?

FOR: The minorities might be embarrassed, and don't want to ask for help. The others should ask then if they need help, and if they don't, then they should at least get the job or position even if they aren't as qualified as others, so they can try to learn how things work on their own.


Edley, Christopher, US News & World Report, "Racial Healing From the Grass Roots Up",1996

Caplan, Lincoln, US News & World Report, "Serenely Against the Tide", 1996

Leo, John, US News & World Report, "Wanted: White Male Typists", 1996

Human, Jonathan, Grolier Encyclopedia, "Equal Opportunity", 1996

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