Facts and Myths about Affirmative Action

Popular Myths About Affirmative Action and Facts That Scrap Them

Affirmative action has been in the news for the last couple of years as several groups are mounting pressure for its withdrawal. Let us check several facts and myths about affirmative action.
OpinionFront Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Affirmative action is the series of policies and measures which are taken to ensure that certain groups, which are considered to be traditionally weaker are not discriminated and are given equal opportunities. However, in the last couple of years, affirmative actions have come under sharp criticism from some groups on the grounds that it leads to reverse discrimination. The debate over affirmative action has become marred by confusion and there is a lot of misconception about the whole issue. This is a result of sensitivity of the issue, and it has been seen that discussions over race are often marked by some claims which may not completely valid.

Affirmative Action - Facts and Myths

Myth: Affirmative action benefits minorities and leads to reverse discrimination.

Fact: Affirmative action is not intended to make it difficult for White males to gain employment or access to education. Affirmative action aims at offering a platform to those groups who have been discriminated throughout history, so that they are able to compete with those groups who historically have been dominant. Affirmative action does not ensure that an individual from a minority group will be given better facilities than a White male, but what it tries to do is to give an opportunity to minorities to progress in life.

Myth: Affirmative action might have been an effective policy 30 years ago, but it has no place in modern society.

Fact: Although we are made to believe that racial discrimination has been eradicated, the situation on the ground is a bit different. Various reports have pointed out that the unemployment rate of Blacks is twice that of Whites, and the percentage of college drop-outs is higher in Blacks as compared to Whites. It has often been claimed that women have equal opportunities as men but reports have shown that women earn lesser than their male counterparts.

Myth: Affirmative action propels racism as majority of the people believe that affirmative action is no longer needed.

Fact: This myth is created because of the fact that most people are asked close-ended questions. It is known that due to certain disinformation campaigns the majority community in America perceives affirmative action to be slightly favorable towards the minority community, however, a large majority of Whites also believe that 'some sort' of affirmative action is necessary. Most people think that affirmative action results in quotas and reservations, but the truth is that the affirmative action aims to encourage minorities through several measures so that they do not feel alienated.

Myth: It is the poor that need affirmative action and not the minorities.

Fact: The policies on affirmative action were framed because there was a broad consensus that wrongs have been done against certain sections of the society throughout history and effective measures had to be taken to bring them in the mainstream. Affirmative actions were created on the ideology of upliftment of these groups. Replacing minorities with poor people may result in deviation from this policy and instead attempts can be made to include poor sections in the affirmative policies.

Myth: There is no need for affirmative action as anti-discriminatory laws are in place to check discrimination in employment.

Fact: Civil laws against discrimination are effective in countering overt discrimination, however, it has been seen that institutional racism exists covertly in America and Civil laws may not be able to prevent this. Affirmative action ensures that proactive steps are taken against any form of discrimination so that there is no scope of impartiality or bias.

Myth: Affirmative action hampers the self-esteem of minorities.

Fact: This myth is based on some rare instances as most of the studies have found that around 90% of people belonging to minority groups said that affirmative action has allowed them in gaining skillful employment and has helped them to realize the dream of quality education. Women have also vented similar feelings about affirmative action and have claimed to feel satisfied that there is encouragement from the government.

These were some facts and myths about affirmative action. Instead of forming a unilateral attitude, we should try to look at both sides of the picture and analyze the impact of affirmative action on our society. If people, who have had to fight even for their basic rights are able to compete with all on a level ground, it certainly will help in eliminating inequality and discrimination from the society.