Affirmative action refers to the active measures taken to promote equal opportunity in education and the workplace. The roots of affirmative action are buried in the American civil rights movement as recourse to counter discrimination and redress the rights of the marginalized minorities. The practice of affirmative action started out as a temporary measure to provide equal opportunities for minority groups in the US, and has since become a global practice. Society today maybe more inclusive and more tolerant of others’ differences, so the question that rages on is: should affirmative action be abolished?
On a deeper examination, affirmative action is shrouded in complexity. The basis of this complex concept is that in practice the rights of one social group will supplant those of another. This is seen in the practice of the quota system. Is affirmative action just discrimination in reverse? The answers to this question differ widely.
A thorn often faced by affirmative action practitioners, especially in the employment field, is that the candidate’s skills and abilities are ignored or sacrificed to accommodate affirmative action policies. The recipient can counter argue that further commitment is needed to prove him/herself and the level of his/her worthiness. This leads to the question of whether this balancing and corrective measure is condescending to those it is intended to uplift.
The question as to whether affirmative action should be abolished has some merit when one considers whether the global practice enables or disables the downtrodden. Some of the factors to be considered here are: sense of pride and self-esteem acquired through achievement and the effects of resentment from other parties.
Societies have over time challenged many forms of discrimination. And yet there is still a cause for concern that racial and gender divides are widely observed. Affirmative action has done much to bridge the gap over time, and perhaps more can still be achieved in the future. Perhaps affirmative action still has a role to play in society today.