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Affirmative Action for African, Latino, and Asian Americans

Affirmative action is probably the most misunderstood civil rights issue of our time.   Opponents believe that it is misguided social engineering that uses quotas and preferences to replace qualified white males with unqualified Ethnic minorities and women.   In reality, affirmative action is a tool to promote diversity and remedy inequities in the workplace, higher education, and government contracting.  Affirmative action clearly helps African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans.

What is affirmative action

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination unlawful in the workplace, federally-funded programs, and privately-owned facilities open to the public.  In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which gave the U.S. Department of Justice the power to take "affirmative" steps to eliminate discrimination.  Also during that year, President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, which gave the U.S. Department of Labor affirmative action enforcement responsibility.  A department under the DOL, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, began requiring government contractors to analyze the demographics of their workforce and take proactive measures to remedy any inequality.   Over the years, affirmative action has been used as a tool to fight discrimination in other venues, including government employment, corporate America, and admissions to public universities.  More recently, affirmative action has come under fire in the courts, mostly because opponents believe that it is a form of reverse discrimination that unfairly penalizes white males for the "sins of the past".

Affirmative action vs. quotas

Perhaps the most controversial issue about affirmative action is whether it uses "quotas".  Affirmative action programs should:  a) verify that inequities exist, b) set goals to eliminate the inequities, c) set timetables to meet the goals, d) disband the program after the goals are met.  Opponents of affirmative action argue that setting a goal is the same thing as instituting a quota, meaning that a specific outcome is mandated rather than highly desirable.  For example, if an employer knows that it has a large disparity between the proportion of Hispanics in its workforce versus the general population, it might use affirmative action to target its recruiting efforts toward the Hispanic population in hopes of increasing Hispanic new hires.  It should identify a goal of how many Hispanics it wants to hire, at what levels, and in what timeframe.  If the employer mandates that a specific job must go to a Hispanic, or that a specific number of Hispanics must be hired, that is a quota.

If affirmative action were just about quotas, you would find that:  a) a significant percentage of hires and promotions would go to under-qualified Ethnic minorities, b) the goals of all affirmative action programs would be met, and within the set timetables, and c) they would be sunsetted.  While there are instances in which a more-qualified non-Ethnic minority is passed over for a less-qualified or even under-qualified Ethnic minority, these cases are few and far between for one simple reason:  to institute such a policy makes no business sense whatsoever.  The main reason is that the punishment for not meeting the goals and timetables does not justify promoting a lesser-skilled workforce.  Employers and agencies can typically comply with affirmative action programs through their efforts more so than their results.   That is why although progress continues to be made, most affirmative action programs fail to meet their goals and timetables, and end up continuing rather than being sunsetted.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action News

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Topics

Government regulations for Federal contractors and subcontractors

Affirmative Action Fact Sheet (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs)

Affirmative Action Programs (41CFR60-2)

Resources
Affirmative Action organizations

American Association for Affirmative Action

Americans United for Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action and Diversity Project

Affirmative Action Register

Leadership Council on Civil Rights

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium

Organization of Chinese Americans

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAMN)

Chinese for Affirmative Action

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