Watch the short video: Obama on Affirmative Action
Affirmative action originated in the 1960’s as a way of providing broader opportunities to historically underrepresented groups. It is the practice of taking into account factors such as race and gender into hiring or admissions processes so that these groups can have increased representation.
Defenders of Affirmative action see it as a response to our nation’s history of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination which has greatly increased the number of minorities and women in occupations and other institutions that have historically been represented mostly by white males. Increasing racial and gender diversity, they argue, benefits everyone.
Critics argue that affirmative action has become “reverse discrimination.” They argue that it divides society by continuing to use race to make hiring and admissions decisions, and that it actually benefits those who need it least (wealthy minorities, they argue, really don’t need the help but get it anyway).
What do you think? Is affirmative action necessary today — or has it outlived its usefulness?