Affirmative Action in the 21st Century Review

Affirmative Action in the 21st Century:

Affirmative action is one of the most divisive and controversial issue in the United States as it has continued to raise numerous debates between proponents and opponents. The proponents of affirmative action assert that it’s necessary for equality while the opponents argue that its programs are completely opposed to the American ideals of individual rights based on its definition. However, much of the controversy surrounding affirmative action is attributed to the failure to differentiate between fair share and fair play. Consequently, the United States is caught up with justice since fairness contributes to many questions in the minds of several people who are not familiar with the original aims and objectives of affirmative action that focused mainly on justice as need or fair share. Notably, the present debate regarding affirmative action usually ends up generating more heat than light, similar to other debates like immigration, bilingual education, and multiculturalism.

Origin of Affirmative Action:

The history of affirmative action in the United States can be traced to the 1960s that emerged because of attempts by the civil rights movement to force the country to honor its initial contract, which is the belief that all people are created equal. Moreover, this concept emerged in efforts to make the United States honor the Pledge of Allegiance promises of justice and freedom for all. In this case, the idea of affirmative action was based on the promise of providing equal opportunity for all people despite of their national origin, religion, color, and sex (Rosado, 1997). During the initial years of the emergence of affirmative action, the concept was mainly addressed to the needs of various groups like African-Americans, American Indians, Asian-Americans, and Latinos. However, the founders and followers of the civil rights movement protested and died for this purpose and other unalienable rights that contributed to the establishment 1964 Civil Rights Act. Nonetheless, actions by the civil rights movement to promote affirmative action and prevent present and future discrimination did not necessarily address past inequities.

Divisiveness of Affirmative Action:

Affirmative action is a concept that emerged during a time when racism and discrimination were entrenched into the fabric of the American society and government. Notably, racism and discrimination in the American government and society have continued to be a characteristic of the United States well into the 20th Century. This is primarily because the laws and policies by the government encouraged discrimination across schools, unions, and employers. Therefore, the concept was developed to help deal with these phenomena that have hindered the ability of America to honor its original pledge.

However, affirmative action has developed to become one of the most divisive and controversial issues in the United States. This is primarily because affirmative action policies and programs have not been a cure for all discrimination in the American society and government. Nonetheless, the proponents of affirmative action argue that the purpose of these policies and programs is not to reverse discrimination or compensation for oppression and slavery (Jackson, n.d.). They also state that affirmative action is not government sanctioned sexism, racism or a denial of the American principles. On the contrary, opponents consider this concept as completely opposed to the American ideals of individual rights based on its definition.

As a result of the raging debate and controversies, affirmative action has continued to be a major divisive issue in the American society. The debates and controversies have also been fueled by the consideration on whether affirmative action is relevant in the 21st Century. Actually, debates on affirmative action are currently centered on whether it’s appropriate and necessary in today’s society or whether it’s detrimental to the society and should be abolished.

Affirmative Action in the 21st Century:

The controversy surrounding affirmative action in the 21st Century is also associated with the continuation of the policies and programs in colleges and universities today (Conn & Niskey, 1998). Actually, state agencies and institutions of higher learning have continued to rely upon the Supreme Court decisions and federal legislation to enforce the policies of affirmative action since 1978. While there are no definitive answers on whether affirmative action policies and programs are necessary, scholars and civic leaders have been engaged in hot debates to determine the implications of measures to dismantle affirmative action policies and programs.

There are various reasons that prove that affirmative action policies and programs are not necessary in the 21st Century and should therefore be abolished. These reasons include & #8230;

Inability to Eliminate Discrimination:

Generally, affirmative action has been unable to wholly eliminate discrimination that is entrenched in the American government and society. While affirmative action was developed to help cure all discrimination in the United States, it is quite evident that this policy has been unable to accomplish its objective. If the affirmative action policies and programs were working, minority groups would be adequately represented in various facets of the society such as colleges and in the workplace in proportion to their numbers in the overall population. According to statistics, these policies and programs have not made significant differences in the representation of minorities.

Affirmative action has also proven to be a failure in determining discrimination and the socio-economic problems in America, which are increasingly difficult and complex to determine than anticipated by the civil rights activists. For instance, the poverty level remains relatively high among the minority groups in the United States than whites. There are also significant differences in income and employment since equal opportunity does not necessarily contribute to equal success rates. Generally, affirmative action has failed to achieve its purpose since racial inequalities continue to persist, especially with regards to pay between Blacks/Latinos and Whites (“Where Affirmative Action Stands Today,” 2009).

Probable Racial Segregation:

The other explanation why affirmative action is unnecessary in the 21st Century is because of the probable racial segregation of these policies and programs. Generally, the rise of anti-affirmative action initiatives in this century is likely to unconsciously relapse the society back to the 1950s and 1960s where public schools suffered from racial segregation. This is primarily because affirmative action has a reverse discrimination effect in the 21st Century. it’s evident that through affirmative action, race is becoming a major deciding factor for job employment, college admissions, and other important aspects of the current society.

Therefore, affirmative action policies and programs should be abolished in order to eliminate the emerging racial quotas and guidelines. This will help in ensuring that people are treated equally as those with the best credentials are hired or admitted since race will no longer be a factor in such decisions. In essence, discrimination and racism will never be eliminated through public policy mainly because of the inability to legislate people’s minds.


Affirmative action is an issue that emerged to help deal with racism and discrimination that were entrenched in the American government and society. However, throughout its history, the concept has attracted huge concerns that have made it to become a divisive issue. As a result, it’s unnecessary for the 21st Century because of probable racial segregation and its failure.


Conn, S.L. & Niskey, L.T. (1998, April 23). The Legitimacy of Anti-Affirmative Action

Initiatives: Didactical Lessons for 21st Century Administrators. Third Annual National Conference, 25.

Jackson. (n.d.). Why is Affirmative Action Such a Divisive Issue? Retrieved from New York

University website:

Rosado, C. (1997, March 3). Affirmative Action: A Time for Change? Retrieved November 27,

2012, from

“Where Affirmative Action Stands Today.” (2009, May 4). The Society Pages. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from

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