Affirmative Action in the United States Essay

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Affirmative Action in the United States

Affirmative Action in the United States consists of the active efforts that take into account race, sex and national origin for the purpose of remedying and preventing discrimination. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal government requires certain businesses and educational institutions that receive federal funds to develop affirmative action programs. Such policies are enforced and monitored by both The Office of Federal Contract Compliance and The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (Lazear 37).
The most noteworthy criticism of affirmative action is that of the white male population who insists that such programs are forms of "reverse discrimination". In contrast to
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Whatever the name, it is apparent that our contemporary society must come to grips with a sobering fact: We are some twenty-five years into a national drive and it has been about fifty years since the government first embraced the idea of giving blacks and other minorities a foothold in white, male-dominated Corporate America, yet the ideal of racial equality remains elusive, and the means of attaining it is increasingly controversial.
Affirmative action encompasses both race and gender. Indeed women have been among its' greatest beneficiaries but the discussion of race stirs the fiercest emotions. The concept of affirmative action itself remains shrouded in ignorance, mistrust, and political cynicism. According to Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, "The term conjures up the vilest of connotations making it much like a four letter word". (Fiscus 86).
It was not always that way, of course. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act banned discrimination in employment and ordered that all hiring be "colorblind". Affirmative action, established by a series of Presidential directives going back to Lyndon B. Johnson's in 1965, was intended to socially compensate minorities for past injustices, to overcome continuing discrimination, and ultimately to provide equal job opportunities for whites and blacks. Unhappily, those aims sometimes contain a painful contradiction:

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