Since the introduction of affirmative action in the mid 60’s-70s, the debate of the policy’s practicality and relevance in today’s society has rapidly increased.

However, the topic on how the policy is affecting Asian Americans is taking centre of most recent conversations.

In current news,  Harvard University has been found to hold a higher standard when accepting Asian Americans than any other racial groups. Asian applicants have to score 140 points more than their white counterparts.

This disparity is causing many Asians to turn against affirmative action.

Despite these startling facts, the reasoning for ivy leagues higher stipulation is to maintain a diverse program with expectation realistic for specific minorities.

Considering Asian American generalized achievement in the academics, factors other than grade based performance must be assessed. This allows room for more diverse and qualified applicant.

Nevertheless, people still question the legality of affirmative action. Some argue that it gives less qualified individuals a position in replacement of fully equipped candidates. Other’s claim its taking society backward seeing that the policy forces employees to take notice of the applicants physical condition.

However, in order to conclude the affirmative action’s validity, the initial purpose of the policy must be established. Misunderstandings about the issue must also be explicated to form a conversant assessment about the method.

According to the Oxford dictionary, affirmative action is defined as: “the practice or policy of favoring individuals belonging to groups known to have been discriminated against previously; positive discrimination.”

Positive Discrimination

This description asserts the intention of affirmative action to open more opportunities for historically disadvantaged minorities. Affirmative action seeks to promote equality through obligatory diversity in order to repair the biased system against minority groups present in the past.

In history, white males were the preferred population when it came to systemic privilege. High position jobs were more than likely inundated with white males as well, the connection to those of higher rank. This gave the demographic (white males), a prodigious advantage to other communities.

In order to create a balance of opportunity, where the social class, race, gender, family connection or other advances did not give a specific constellation a biased advantage, affirmative action had to be emplaced. This made it mandatory for employers to fulfill achieve a diverse work environment.

To put it differently, minorities have been disadvantaged when seeking opportunities in history. This made it hard for them to acquire respectable statuses and roles. To add, determined characteristics such as race and gender determined rejected applications inquired by minorities. Affirmative action policy impels corporations to foresee that bias towards certain individuals does not affect other applicants. It also ensures an equal playing field for the disadvantaged and the privileged.

One might say affirmative action is counterintuitive and harms the purpose it looks to accomplish. The main argument to this is the claim that if the goal is for everyone to be equal, creating policies that focus on appearance destroys the purpose. This, however, is false. Adopting color-blind policies disregards the disadvantage of racial minorities, and mostly benefit the racially advantaged. Most employers are white which creates more of a basis in favour towards white applicants. More so, white people generally have an educational benefit than those of other races. The educational disparities among races is a result of historical racism, discrimination, and segregation.

In the past, most African American schools were not properly funded by the government. While the white schools had accomplished scholars with degrees, many of the black teachers held limited education. This was a consequence of the prohibition of black people applying to colleges.  For this reason, many white run schools have an edge over their counterparts. This is why affirmative action is important. It helps the underprivileged match their competition by giving them a leg up.

Another misconception people have about affirmative action is that it ejects merits and hires/accept those less qualified. This is simply false and also illegal. You cannot hire an unqualified applicant solely based on their appearance. What affirmative action does is make the selection pool open for more diversity, free from discrimination and bias. The truth is if a  black person and a white person have the same resume, the white person would be chosen. Affirmative action aims to eliminate this prejudice.

Affirmative action promotes inclusion to an exclusive system. It is not to replace merit or advocate for unqualified hiring. Affirmative action purpose is to fill quotas or promote the acceptance of diversity to fulfill government requirements. Simply put, affirmative action allows for an equal opportunity for those who are socially disadvantaged.

For more statistics on affirmative action, read here.

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