Affirmative Action to promote Equal Opportunity in the United States is Justified
Debate Rounds (4)
1st Rd) Laying out of cases (you may post some questions if you would like them answered
2nd Rd) Rebut and Rebuild (I may ask questions here after speaking first For you to answer in RD 1 I will answer questions posed in round 1)
3rd Rd) Summary (Both sides may ask questions to be answered in RD 4)
4th Rd) Final Focus
I negate resolved: Affirmative action to promote equal opportunity in the U.S is justified
According to the West Encyclopedia of American Law affirmative action "refers to both mandatory and voluntary programs intended to affirm the civil rights of designated classes of individuals by taking positive action to protect them".
Opportunity- a possibility due to a favorable combination of circumstances
Justified- Something is justified when it has a justification - something (such as a fact or circumstance) that shows an action to be reasonable
The use of Affirmative Action can never be justified when it fails to create conditions in which minority groups have the same kind of opportunities that the majority groups enjoy.
C1-Affirmative action neglects to address the problem of development for minority groups, failing to create long term improvements.
Shelby Steele, contends in a July 2009 Washing Post Article that affirmative action is merely a "distraction". She states that with "(African American) youths performing worse on the SAT in 2000 than in 1990, the obsession with affirmative action may only help us avoid the more troubling reality: the ongoing underdevelopment that keeps so many minorities non-competitive." Steele believes that affirmative action has been a means to "restore moral authority and legitimacy to American institutions" while "failing… to help minorities achieve true equality with whites -- the ultimate measure of which is parity in skills and individual competence. Without this underlying parity there can never be true equality in employment, income levels, rates of home ownership, educational achievement and the rest."
The best method to create equal opportunities in employment and higher education is to ensure that students have the same opportunities from the beginning of their educational experience, to improve job skills of workers, and to help develop the community.
Stephen L. Carter – Professor of law at Yale University, adds that "Those who suffer most from the legacy of racial oppression are not competing for spaces in the entering classes of the nation's most selective colleges. Millions of them are not finishing high school".
C2- Affirmative Action sets up college bound minorities for failure.
A: Attendance rates for minorities at universities have increased, but Affirmative Action has not increased graduation rates in the same manner.
According to the Marie Gryphon, of the Cato Institute "Although minority college attendance has increased rapidly in recent decades, minority graduation rates have not kept pace…preferences at selective schools have not increased college access. They cannot do so because most minority students leave high school without the minimum qualifications to attend any four-year school. Only outreach and better high school preparation can reduce overall racial disparities in American colleges.
… Minority underrepresentation in college is caused by public schools' failure to prepare minority students. It is a failure that affirmative action does not remedy. "College-ready" minorities are already slightly more likely to attend college than their white counterparts."
B. Degrees that are obtained through affirmative action are perceived as less valuable.
The Cato Institute continues:
"One of the self-defeating effects of affirmative action is that, in a university culture that attaches inordinate social value to credentials, preferences dilute those credentials for minority students who would be admitted to selective schools without them.. at elite schools, admission now signals two different levels of achievement -- one for white and Asian students, and another for black and Latino students -- which diminishes the cachet of admission for the latter group."
Affirmative Action creates the perception that those who use affirmative action are under qualified, and diminishes the value of their degree.
C3- Affirmative Action Programs primarily target the elite.
According to a report in the Sociological forum, polarization theory supports that "antidiscrimination legislation, and occupational industrial shifts have brought.. some progress to middle-class blacks…But that "that these changes are pushing a less qualified black population into an increasingly isolated and alienated underclass".
This study "reported that black men in low-paying occupations were significantly less likely to achieve upward mobility than similarly situated white men". The minorities in greatest need of a means to achieve upward mobility are the least likely to achieve it. The study noted that "the absence of equal opportunity policies for the less skilled may actually exacerbate the growth of the underclass."
Concentrations of minority members in the poorest urban areas will never see benefits from affirmative action. Rather than rectify the problem of a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and race, plans target the wealthy elite of minority groups.
Its a practice that has been controversial since its conception in 1965. Then again, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was controversial, as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and the inclusion of the 15th and 14th amendments in the Constitution. Of course, we cannot forget the controversy of the 13th amendment, which had abolished slavery only a hundred years prior to Affirmative Action.
It seems that whenever race and gender are considered, controversy is soon to follow. But, if I may borrow the words from Martin Luther King Jr., this has not stopped the arch of history from bending towards justice. Indeed, our society is vastly more equal in terms of race and gender relations, then it was 100 years ago, 60 years ago, 40 years ago.....
So what is Affirmative Action?
Here is a standard definition:
"[affirmative action] refers to both mandatory and voluntary programs intended to affirm the civil rights of designated classes of individuals by taking positive action to protect them." -West Encyclopedia of American Law
In other words it "means positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education and business from which they have been historically excluded."-Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy.
Quite simply, Affirmative Action is the logical extension and active affirmation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So why all the controversy?
The common argument posed by people who object to Affirmative Action is that it gives an unfair advantage nay, privilege, to minorities in areas of higher education and work. That is, enacting Affirmative Action for minorities puts whites in a position of disadvantage and causes more qualified whites to lose jobs and educational opportunities .
But we should ask ourselves "who really holds the upper hand", that is, who has the advantage in our society? To answer this, we must re-examine how we think about privilege in America today. Kimberle Crenshaw uses the metaphor of a foot race to discuss that question:
"Think for just a moment about what is missing in the way that affirmative action is usually framed. The debate is usually premised on the metaphor of an equal-opportunity race, where we all began at the starting line. The societal rewards go to the swiftest and the most talented. Now the problem with affirmative action as we are led to believe, is that it distorts the race by giving some people a head
start, halfway around the track. So when the winner is a woman... or a woman of color, supposedly we all know that it isn't because she was the swiftest runner, or thinker, or planner, but because of the head start that she happened to get......But while all sides of this debate focus on the disabilities of the runner, they wind up missing entirely the crippling conditions of the track. So what if instead of training our gaze at the runner, we looked instead at the conditions of the track. What if we really looked at the different lanes that America's runners have to run in. If we looked at that we see that some of those lanes are nicely paved, even surfaces, beautifully well-lit with freshly painted lines. Other Americans though have to navigate lanes that are riddled with obstacles and debris, where to stay in the race they have to climb walls, scale barriers...Affirmative action is quite simply a commitment to remove the effects of these obstacles that impede the race for some, using a wide variety of tactics and strategies."
So lets talk about the track. To address the merits of Affirmative Action and whether it's justified, it's necessary to acknowledge the history of race relations in America that first necessitated its existence. American history includes the history of oppressing certain classes of people. Perhaps the most well-known example of this brutality, was the enslavement of between 10-15 million Africans who survived the transport to the Americas.
Early colonial life and prosperity, as it developed, became dependent upon the indentured servitude and enslavement of both black and white people. Throughout the 1600s black and whites worked closely together towards the interests of their masters (ownership class). During this early time, white servants and black slaves were know to fraternize, marry, have children and even run away together. The elite class increasingly worried about the developing bond and solidarity amongst these people, as reflected in the very laws created at that time to separate and wedge apart those budding alliances.
The historian Edward Morgan wrote " initially, at least, they[elite class, masters] perceived slaves in much the same way they had always perceived servants...shiftless, irresponsible, unfaithful, ungrateful, dishonest..." and " if freemen with disappointed hopes should make common cause with slaves of desperate hope, the results might be worse than anything Bacon had done."
The elite class had to decide how they were going to maintain their power and wealth. This would require making sure that the poor whites and the blacks did not unite and rise up against them. The masters' method was the law. Slave codes were passed, which worked to permanently institutionalize slavery, including the measurements for punishment and discipline of slave transgressions. These of course were written to be far more severe than the punishments for white indentured servants of equal transgressions. Morgan states:
"Virginia's ruling class, having proclaimed that all white men were superior to black, went on to offer their social (but white) inferiors a number of benefits previously denied them. In 1705 a law was passed requiring masters to provide white servants whose indenture time was up with ten bushels of corn, thirty shillings, and a gun....Also, the newly freed servants were to get 50 acres of land.....once the small planter felt less exploited by taxation and began to prosper a little, he became less turbulent, less dangerous, more respectable. He could begin to see his big neighbor not as an extortionist, but as a powerful protector of their common interests."
And so began the shift from a society which was largely defined by class distinction, that is, the disparity of wealth and freedom between the elite white male ownership class and every everyone else (including freed whites, indentured white servants, freed blacks, enslaved blacks and the Natives) to one that included distinctions based on race. In other words, whites of a comparable class level to blacks began to align their interests and identify with the elite white class.
From this point on, poor and indentured whites were elevated by culture and law to positions of authority and privilege over blacks. Freed white males were granted the privilege of owning land, voting, accepting and passing inheritance, being jurors and taking advantage of programs such as the Homestead Act.
Meanwhile, their black peers were left behind the starting line.
The amendments to the constitution meant that the law recognized Black Americans as citizens,but they did not end the systematic inequality and oppression faced by Black citizens, which kept them in separate schools, restaurants, seats, facilities, housing and jobs and which restricted their social mobility, access to resources, and economic status. Now, our black peers were left to race on a very uneven track.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act sought, as Affirmative Action seeks, to make the race fair. It may not be the perfect answer or even the only, but to end it, would be to willingly seek a less just society.
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We do not live in a post-racial society. Oppression and exploitation are thrust upon millions of people of various race, ethnicity, age and sex worldwide. We should seek to end all forms of injustice, not by casting spite or distrust upon specific groups, but by uniting with those whom we have the most in common. Lets be allies to one another, lets start with supporting affirmative action.
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Vote Placed by nofearof0 7 years ago
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