What is Affirmative Action and what are the justifications for it?

Affirmitive action is a policy or program of increasing the representation of certain designated groups seeking to redress discrimination or bias through active measures such as in education and housing.


It helps to right the previous wrongs that have hindered the progress of African Americans e.g. Martin Luther King Jnr said “ A society that has done something special against the negro, must do something special for the negro”

Affirmitve action can help to increase diversity within society. Esp in education as it can create a diverse learning environment and increase social acceptance/tolerance. All cultural heritages are accepted. e.g. more social cohesion, less crime.

Delivers the promise of equal opportunity e.g. from the 1960s-95 the % of black people who graduated from university went from 5% to 15%, as well as this it draws people into occupations into jobs they would have not thought of e.g. men into nursing etc

According to liberals it has not been successful so is still required. 11% of African American still live under the 50% poverty line despite measures to increase education and job availability to. Japanese Americans were given compensation after ww2 for the mistreatment they suffered and received a gvt apology showing that reparations are needed.


Reverse discrimination, white people who work hard and who are qualified may be overlooked e.g. a white person who lives in poverty who tries hard may lose out to a middle class African American who is less qualified. It benefits the most fortunate amongst the preferred group e.g. wealthy black people, and is detrimental to the less fortunate amongst the non -preferred group e.g. poor white people.

It perpetuates a society based on colour and race therefore encourages prejudice. It sends a message that african americans success due to preferential treatment -> can cause animosity between races, crime could increase etc

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