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Affirmative Action

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Affirmative Action?

Affirmative Action has been frivolously debated throughout the past 135

years. Citizens of the United States question whether the government should

grant certain advantages to races that have endured bigotry in the past.

This plan goes by the name of Affirmative Action. Affirmative Action is a

federally subsidized program that encourages universities and other

educational institutions, to accept a greater number of minority students.

Throughout the years, Affirmative Action and the different advocates have

changed, but racial inequality remains stagnant.

Affirmative action has various proponents and opponents, both of whom seek

the eventual goal of an integrated, educated middle class society. The

opponents of Affirmative Action argue that it is not the responsibility of

the current majority to make up for prior actions; and imposing these

types of programs would be a form of so-called, reverse discrimination. The

proponents argue that it is everybody's responsibility to create a society,

which gives everybody an equal opportunity regardless of race, and the only

way to ascertain this goal is through Affirmative-Action programs. How can

this nation come together and disregard the color of a persons skin? Will we

reach this goal by subsidizing programs that assist minorities, or shall we

sit and wait for time to establish equal opportunity for all?

The history of Affirmative Action dates back to the days when the nation

attempted to rebuild its society after the civil war. Reconstruction

attempted to establish virtuous relations between the white Europeans and

black Africans that made up a large part of the American society. The nation

was torn on how to establish these relations.

Many call Reconstruction the low point of race relations in the United

States. This era included the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment,

defining national citizenship so as to include blacks. This Amendment passed

Congress in June 1866 and was ratified, despite rejection by most Southern

states (July 28, 1868). In response to the newfound freedom of African

Americans, whites incited numerous accounts of violence. White hatred of the

black race created an era that experienced the most lynchings in the history

of the United States. Whites also began using contemporary forms of labor

exploitation to maintain control of their socio-economic advantage.

Something needed to be done so that the nation would not split at its seams.

One side argued that time was the only solution to racial problems. Creating

government programs would make African's dependent and give them an unfair

advantage. "They were said to be fat state subsidies that unfairly penalized

innocent whites and taught blacks self-destructive habits of indolence and

independence." This argument was sustained by the Democratic Party who

expressed their thinking by publicizing material, which endorsed their

belief. One such example is a cartoon that was created in 1866, which pokes

fun of "The Freedmans Bureau". This highly publicized illustration showed a

black man sitting under a tree, while a white man labored intensely.

Along with public advertising, many prominent individuals came out and spoke

vehemently against the establishment of compensatory laws. One of the

principal objectors of compensatory laws was Booker T. Washington. Washington

believed the best interests of black people would be attained through

education in the crafts, industrial skills and cultivation of the virtues of

patience, enterprise, and thrift. He urged his fellow blacks, most of whom

were impoverished and illiterate farm laborers, to temporarily abandon their

efforts to win full civil rights and political power and instead to cultivate

their industrial and farming skills, so as to attain economic security.

Blacks would thus accept segregation and discrimination, but their eventual

acquisition of wealth and culture would gradually win them the respect and

acceptance of the white community. This would break down the divisions

between the two races and lead to equal citizenship for blacks in the end.

Such rhetoric infuriated many black and white liberals, who were in favor of

such programs. For behind reformers clamor against class legislation and the



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