Affirmative action

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Affirmative action (or positive discrimination, employment equity, reservation, positive action) is policies which discriminate in favor of certain groups such as racial/ethnic groups or gender groups which are argued to be disadvantaged. Most typically it applies to selection of persons for employment or education but may also apply to activities such as public contracting and health programs


General criticisms

  • Usually the goal with affirmative action is that the workforce or student body should have the same demographic composition as the general population. The underlying assumption is that all groups have equal abilities and that therefore all subgroups in a society should have the same demographic composition as the general population and that any difference regarding this must be due to harmful factors such as racism, sexism, and so on.
  • If the underlying assumption is wrong, then affirmative action will cause less able persons to be chosen before more able persons with harmful effects for the efficiency of the organizations and the societies practicing affirmative action.
  • Affirmative action may cause people from the favored groups to be looked upon negatively since they may be suspected to have gained education and employment by displacing more able persons from other groups.
  • Another effect it that it may cause people to falsely or on dubious reasons grounds identify themselves as belonging to one the favored groups.
  • Many such policies tend to affect only the most able in the groups favored by affirmative actions (such as students seeking admission to universities in competition with other top students) while not affecting other members of the favored group.
  • Affirmative action may also cause problems for an individual by placing him in a position that is beyond his abilities (mismatching). For example, an affirmative action student may possible have trouble graduating from an education that is too difficult with possible negative consequences such as accumulating a large student debt before dropping out.
  • Ethnic heterogeneity and other forms of diversity may have various harmful effects such as creating conflicts between groups that do not exist in a homogenous organization.

Affirmative action and Jews

Jewish quota was a percentage that limited the number of Jews in various establishments. In particular, in 19th and 20th centuries some countries had Jewish quotas for higher education. This had in some cases similarities to affirmative action policies. Such policies were strongly opposed by Jewish organizations.

Jews are greatly over-represented in comparison to their share of the population in many situations in, for examples, the United States. See the article on Jewish influence. Yet today affirmative action policies are almost never directed at Jews but instead at Whites who are less over-represented.

In policies affected by affirmative action, such as admission policies, Jews may be counted as Whites. This means that if this combined group is given an admission quota in proportion to the share of the population of this combined group, but Jews for some reason(s) are over-represented in the admission, then the non-Jewish Whites will be under-represented.

See also Jewish influence: Proposed causes on Jews being greatly over-represented as students at elite universities in the United States and Whites being discriminated against.

South Africa

In South Africa affirmative action is not in favor of a minority group but is in the favor of the Black majority.

In 2014 public service managers were stated to be encouraged to keep posts vacant rather than fill them with Whites. "In the name of transformation, managers in the public service have actually been incentivised to keep whites out for racial and ideological reasons. Better to leave a vacancy unfilled than to put a white person into it." This was argued to set up newly-qualified young black recruits for failure and their failures in turn hurt countless numbers of people dependent on the public service. Such affirmative action policies have been blamed for the death of three babies due to water contamination due to a municipality having lost its capacity to maintain the sewer plant. Affirmative action, cadre deployment, and impunity were argued to mean that appointments to government jobs very often were made on grounds of race and/or political allegiance to the ruling party, while skills and experience were subordinate criteria. The health system was argued to be crumbling and disease burden rising, in part due to affirmative actions policies. The majority of the victims of affirmative action were argued to be poor black.[1]

South Africa also has affirmative action policies for sports.

United States

In the United States the term was first used in a presidential Executive Order signed in 1961.

Abigail Fisher took the University of Texas to court for its unethical discrimination against white people. A Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel in New Orleans ruled in 2014 that it is acceptable for colleges to discriminate against white people.[2] Two months after their victory, The University of Texas then decided, in September 2014, that anyone who lives in a home where their parents don't speak English will get affirmative action benefits.[3]

Affirmative action in effect means that Whites are discriminated against in college admissions. Yet public perceptions are different. Whites think that Black and White students, when equally qualified, will have an equal change of being admitted into college. Most Blacks think that White students will have an advantage over equally qualified Blacks.[4]

Data from a 2017 book on university admissions showed that Asian Whites were under-represented compared to grades and test scores while Blacks and Latinos, and sometimes Amerindians, were over-represented.[5]

See also White privilege.

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