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Affirmative Action Explained

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I agree,but we tried that before and even Du Bois "Talented Tenth" ended up being janitors and maids because they could'nt get work in their fields...

Did'nt work so well...

When was it tried? What were the prevalent social attitudes at the time? Have they remained exactly the same since that time or have they changed at all?

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If they do, then so will the inequalities created by the institutionalized racism of affirmative action today.

Theres a danger in that for sure, and programs like AA need to be cancelled once thats in danger of happening, but it seems like its a long way off in most areas.

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I go back & forth on affirmative action.

1) it's not fair for whites/males etc. to be discriminated against because of their colour/sex etc. and be passed over for visible minorities or women to fill a quota.

however...

2) it's not fair for visible minorities/women etc. to be discriminated against because of their colour/sex (or accent etc.) and be passed over in favour of white males because by white male employers who may be racist and/or sexist. Unfortunately this crap still happens, i've seen friends who are employers do this and admit it to me.

So it's basically "pick your poison". Either way, somebody is going to be discriminated against.

Right now, i'm on the side of affirmative action if it's managed properly. The usual argument against AA is that the best person should be chosen for the job, no matter the colour/gender etc. But this just doesn't happen many times. If Mr. white male employer has a choice between 2 equal candidates, 1 white male and 1 arab muslim male, the white male will often get the job.

Edited by Moonlight Graham

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If they do, then so will the inequalities created by the institutionalized racism of affirmative action today.

Exactly how is affirmative action "institutionalized racism?"

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Exactly how is affirmative action "institutionalized racism?"

He's going to say it's legislated discrimination...Or he'll use the "Reverse discrimination" card...

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He's going to say it's legislated discrimination...Or he'll use the "Reverse discrimination" card...

No such thing as "reverse discrimination". It's just plain racism.

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I don't know why you put it in quotes. Yes, hiring for jobs and acceptance to post-secondary programs should be based on merit. For the economically disadvantaged, programs can exist to offer them the same opportunities as people of an average economic standing can have. Such assistance can and should be independent of race. There are poor among all races, there are people who have suffered oppression among all races, just as there are people who do well among all races. A poor white refugee from the Soviet Union deserves no less aid than a black immigrant from Africa.

Right now two guys with exactly equal intelligence, creativity, and work ethic are likely to wind up with completely disparate fortunes, if one comes from a wealthy family and/or inherits a lot of wealth, and the other comes from a poor family that cant afford to send him to secondary school.

Thats the exact opposite of a meritocracy. A meritocracy would be a system where every one started on the same starting line, and sprinted to the same finish line, with only their own brains, enginuity, and creativity moving them along. You would have to do a LOT more than get rid of affirmative action to get that.

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Right now two guys with exactly equal intelligence, creativity, and work ethic are likely to wind up with completely disparate fortunes, if one comes from a wealthy family and/or inherits a lot of wealth, and the other comes from a poor family that cant afford to send him to secondary school.

100% bullshit. A person from a poor family has every opportunity to get an education through funding sources such as loans and bursaries (need based) as well as scholarships (merit based). Oh and I hope you meant post-secondary school, cause it doesn't take much to "afford" being able to send someone to secondary school.

Thats the exact opposite of a meritocracy. A meritocracy would be a system where every one started on the same starting line, and sprinted to the same finish line, with only their own brains, enginuity, and creativity moving them along. You would have to do a LOT more than get rid of affirmative action to get that.

Even if that were true, NONE of this provides an argument for affirmative action. If there are insufficient supports for people who come from poor families to get good opportunities in life, then perhaps some new programs could be looked at (that's a debate in itself), but such aid need only consider their economic conditions, NOT their race.

Proponents of affirmative action such as yourself seem to mix up race and poverty as if they are one and the same and assume that blacks are by nature poor and need help to achieve equal things in life. That is an incorrect and racist view. I, on the other hand, believe that people of all races can achieve. If they need help starting out in life, such as to afford post-secondary education, then that help should be available equally to people of all races.

If poverty is the cause of lack of opportunities in life, as you claim, then should poverty not be the criterion for providing aid to people to help them get these opportunities? Why should the criteria have anything to do with race?

Again, in Canada, there already exists every opportunity for a child whose family cannot (or will not) contribute even a single cent towards their post-secondary education to get that education anyway. I know, I did it. It wasn't even hard. Just fill out a few forms, send them in, done. You are guaranteed a student loan of a size large enough to pay for your entire undergraduate and Master's education, with zero interest while you are in school, if your parents are not rich. You are also very likely to receive a bursary (money you don't have to pay back) in addition to the loan if you live on your own (in residence, etc) rather than at home with your parents.

Edited by Bonam

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100% bullshit. A person from a poor family has every opportunity to get an education through funding sources such as loans and bursaries (need based) as well as scholarships (merit based). Oh and I hope you meant post-secondary school, cause it doesn't take much to "afford" being able to send someone to secondary school.

Even if that were true, NONE of this provides an argument for affirmative action. If there are insufficient supports for people who come from poor families to get good opportunities in life, then perhaps some new programs could be looked at (that's a debate in itself), but such aid need only consider their economic conditions, NOT their race.

Proponents of affirmative action such as yourself seem to mix up race and poverty as if they are one and the same and assume that blacks are by nature poor and need help to achieve equal things in life. That is an incorrect and racist view. I, on the other hand, believe that people of all races can achieve. If they need help starting out in life, such as to afford post-secondary education, then that help should be available equally to people of all races.

If poverty is the cause of lack of opportunities in life, as you claim, then should poverty not be the criterion for providing aid to people to help them get these opportunities? Why should the criteria have anything to do with race?

Again, in Canada, there already exists every opportunity for a child whose family cannot (or will not) contribute even a single cent towards their post-secondary education to get that education anyway. I know, I did it. It wasn't even hard. Just fill out a few forms, send them in, done. You are guaranteed a student loan of a size large enough to pay for your entire undergraduate and Master's education, with zero interest while you are in school, if your parents are not rich. You are also very likely to receive a bursary (money you don't have to pay back) in addition to the loan if you live on your own (in residence, etc) rather than at home with your parents.

100% bullshit. A person from a poor family has every opportunity to get an education through funding sources such as loans and bursaries (need based) as well as scholarships (merit based). Oh and I hope you meant post-secondary school, cause it doesn't take much to "afford" being able to send someone to secondary school.

No to suggest that poor kids have the same odds of success as wealthy kids is just plain fantasy.

Even if that were true, NONE of this provides an argument for affirmative action.

That wasnt an argument for affirmative action. I was just claiming that what you think you are arguing for is DEFINATELY not a meritocracy.

Again, in Canada, there already exists every opportunity for a child whose family cannot (or will not) contribute even a single cent towards their post-secondary education to get that education anyway.

Theres opportunities yes, but thats nothing compared to being born into wealth. Poor kids have the OPPORTUNITY to become wealthy if they work super hard, and get lucky. A lot of the children of wealthy people will be rich no matter WHAT they do. Thats not a meritocracy. A 5 mile race where one guy starts 15 feet from the finish line is not a meritocracy.

Proponents of affirmative action such as yourself

Dunno if Im a proponent really, although in some cases I think its been helpful. Mostly though I just shot down some of the lazy arguments against it people here were making.

seem to mix up race and poverty as if they are one and the same and assume that blacks are by nature poor and need help to achieve equal things in life. That is an incorrect and racist view. I, on the other hand, believe that people of all races can achieve.

I think all races can achieve as well. But a big factor in how you finish the race is where you start.

If they need help starting out in life, such as to afford post-secondary education, then that help should be available equally to people of all races.

Well... Ill hold you too that! The problem is over the years Iv seemed to notice that the people ranting against affirmative action are also against programs that help the poor, and generally wouldnt support the massive public investment in secondary education youre describing here. You realize how many people need help right? Its in the millions... Your race agnostic post secondary assistance program is going be one hell of an expensive proposition, and youre going to get very little help from your friends on the right that normally oppose AA.

BUT! As long as your support for helping children from poor families have the same chances of getting a post secondary education as children from rich families (almost 100%), is real and not contrived I will concede that point to you sir. You are correct that lots of white people need help too, and I would rather have the policy you described than AA based on race.

But it has to be one or the other... Replacing AA with the program you described would be good policy I think. But I would be worried about abolishing AA until the other program was in place because Im skeptical that a program such as the one you described would actually be enacted. But sign me up! Send me the petition, and tell me where the next rally is for subsidized post-sec, and you can count on my steel :)

I also apologize for my tone earlier, and Ill try to do a better job in that regard. I've been trying to be a better person, but Im finding it to be an uphill battle! :P

Edited by dre

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Guest TrueMetis

On the topic of a person from a poor family having the opportunity to go to university. This is true in theory but it ignores a few other problems, like what if whoever it is needs to get a job to help their family out? Not common but it happens.

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No to suggest that poor kids have the same odds of success as wealthy kids is just plain fantasy.

I dunno, a lot of "wealthy" kids never learn life skills and how to handle limited finances, when everything is in such abundance. I knew a lot of wealthy kids back in high school that now aren't doing so well, because they aren't used to life where everything isn't handed to them on a silver platter. I think a big part of the wealthy vs poor dichotomy among kids isn't so much about the wealth as it is about the mindset and availability of their parents. Many of the poor are in dysfunctional families where one or sometimes even both parents are absent.

Coming from a very modest family background, I really don't think that beyond having a roof over your head, food, and two parents that care about you, that additional wealth would really impact a child's educational outcomes that much. Private schools maybe? I dunno how big of a difference those would realistically make.

Theres opportunities yes, but thats nothing compared to being born into wealth. Poor kids have the OPPORTUNITY to become wealthy if they work super hard, and get lucky. A lot of the children of wealthy people will be rich no matter WHAT they do. Thats not a meritocracy. A 5 mile race where one guy starts 15 feet from the finish line is not a meritocracy.

Is "being wealthy" really the finish line? How wealthy is "wealthy"? Dunno about you, but to me, acquiring large amounts of material wealth are hardly the main goals of life. Long as you're somewhere in the middle class you are fine, beyond that I don't know if there is any particular correlation between additional wealth and happiness.

Poor kids have the opportunity to get a post-secondary education. That is not in question in Canada. Look at the Canada student loans program website if you don't believe me. Every single kid from a poor background who gets into a university WILL have it funded for them by a student loan, if not a bursary or scholarship.

What they do once they have that post-secondary education is up to them, but they are adequately equipped to get a job that will let them be middle class at least, assuming they picked a degree that is practical.

Well... Ill hold you too that! The problem is over the years Iv seemed to notice that the people ranting against affirmative action are also against programs that help the poor, and generally wouldnt support the massive public investment in secondary education youre describing here. You realize how many people need help right? Its in the millions... Your race agnostic post secondary assistance program is going be one hell of an expensive proposition, and youre going to get very little help from your friends on the right that normally oppose AA.

Canada ALREADY has this race agnostic post secondary assistance program, and it works very well. Yes, it is somewhat expensive. Again, I benefited from this program myself, I know how it works. You are correct, millions of people do need this help, and they have gotten it. 4.3 million to be exact.

BUT! As long as your support for helping children from poor families have the same chances of getting a post secondary education as children from rich families (almost 100%), is real and not contrived I will concede that point to you sir. You are correct that lots of white people need help too, and I would rather have the policy you described than AA based on race.

Glad we've got that established, at least for education. As I've said, this program already exists.

This doesn't apply to getting jobs, however.

But it has to be one or the other... Replacing AA with the program you described would be good policy I think. But I would be worried about abolishing AA until the other program was in place because Im skeptical that a program such as the one you described would actually be enacted. But sign me up! Send me the petition, and tell me where the next rally is for subsidized post-sec, and you can count on my steel :)

Given that this program already exists (http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/postsec/getloan/elg.shtml), I take it you agree we should immediately repeal affirmative action programs as they apply to education.

I also apologize for my tone earlier, and Ill try to do a better job in that regard. I've been trying to be a better person, but Im finding it to be an uphill battle! :P

Apology accepted... always good to see a person trying to improve themselves... even if they start far from the finish line (haha sorry couldn't resist in light of you mentioning that in your post).

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On the topic of a person from a poor family having the opportunity to go to university. This is true in theory but it ignores a few other problems, like what if whoever it is needs to get a job to help their family out? Not common but it happens.

Well, a few things to consider for that scenario:

1) If the family is in a dire short-term financial straights, the person can take a few years to help with that and then still get their education

2) If the family is in long-term financial problems, the person would be of greater benefit to the family by spending 2-4 years on that education first and then helping them much more substantially with a higher paying job

3) Parents of someone just graduating high school and about to go to university would very rarely demand or expect that their child sacrifice their chance for success in life to help them out of their current difficulties

4) Even if the financial problems are short term, a student can quite possibly be of greater financial help to the family by taking out the maximum student loan and grant and working hard in university and getting a scholarship too than they would be by working some minimum wage job out of high school. They can also still hold a part time job while studying. Or study part time while having a full time job. Or they can even do both full time (my dad did that after we came to Canada, full 40 hour work week + another 40+ hours of studies as he worked towards his Master's and then PhD).

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IMO there is no longer any 'systemic discrimination', attitudes have changed, this is not to say that racism has been completely obliterated, it hasn't, but there is no excuse for legalized discrimination (as in our constitution). We have laws in place to address such things, there is no longer any need for race based remedies based on past discrimination or to redress historical wrongs.

We all abhor racial discrimination but affirmative action is the means to give preferential treatment to minorities. Looking at universities and business these days the balance has changed, now there are more problems as a result. e.g. not enough males in university, Asian students sometimes can't get in because their 'quota' has been filled. Heck, AA doesn't level the playing field, it completely skews the field, as in:

They're apparently unaware that affirmative action in university admissions -- "positive discrimination," as the Brits call it -- would mean reducing the number of some minorities, especially Asians, for the benefit of other minorities, and even the majority white population.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/Blind+success/3880975/story.html#ixzz19hFkzjPL

Edited by scribblet

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Sorry but how is it not?

You made the statement, now back it up. If you are unable to, then we'll chalk that down it lack of ability or knowledge. If you can, but choose not to, we call this a dodge. Are you an artful dodger Bonam of do you simply lack the ability back up your assertion? In either case then, you'd be talking out your ass.

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Yeah....

Tell that one to the First Nations folks...

So do you believe that we should limit Affirmative Action programs to only natives?

Is there any evidence affirmative action programs have helped the native condition? They've been in place for some time now, along with other measure to help with native educational levels. Are the reserves better places to live now than they were a generation ago? Is native poverty lower? Is native alcoholism and drug abuse and crime lower? If nothing good is happening then perhaps we might consider some other way to resolve the issue with native communities.

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Yes they still experience it today. Like I explained the inequities created by institutionalized descrimination last for generations.

Who experiences what today? Do you have evidence that visible minority groups face active discrimination in their lives to such an extent it damages their economic well-being? Granted there is and probably always will be bigotry in society, coming from all quarters towards all quarters. In my experience visible minority members are just as likely, and perhaps MORE likely, to be bigots as anyone else. The targets of that bigotry simply shift.

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So what's the answer less than 50 years after the fact???

A return to the old "Meritocracy"?

What's wrong with meritocracy so long as it's fairly applied?

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I agree,but we tried that before and even Du Bois "Talented Tenth" ended up being janitors and maids because they could'nt get work in their fields...

Did'nt work so well...

Society was quite different back then.

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2) it's not fair for visible minorities/women etc. to be discriminated against because of their colour/sex (or accent etc.) and be passed over in favour of white males because by white male employers who may be racist and/or sexist. Unfortunately this crap still happens, i've seen friends who are employers do this and admit it to me.

I'm sure it happens - to all races - by all races. I wonder, if you did a study of hiring patterns by women or visible minority managers, whether it would emerge they favoured people who were "just like them". I suspect that in many cases it would. Human nature doesn't really change that much.

That is why hiring should be done by merit, with less subjective hiring based on personal interviews. Personality is important, but neutral tests could replace interviews.

Unfortunately, when you boil it down to the hiring manager, he or she is looking for someone who will fit in. Someone who is very different from those already in place, be it for race, attitudes, age, or whatnot, is less likely to be hired. As far as accents go, if someone is more difficult to understand and communicate with that is a logical reason for hiring prefences.

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Exactly how is affirmative action "institutionalized racism?"

If you hire someone over someone else not based on merit but based on skin color that is defacto racism, is it not?

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Right now two guys with exactly equal intelligence, creativity, and work ethic are likely to wind up with completely disparate fortunes, if one comes from a wealthy family and/or inherits a lot of wealth, and the other comes from a poor family that cant afford to send him to secondary school.

When you can demonstrate that two people with exactly equal intelligence, creatitivity, drive, work ethic, skills and education are likely to wind up with disparate fortunes if one is a different color, you'll have a case for affirmative action. So far I haven't seen any such evidence.

The fact rich people have it better is a non sequitor and irrelevent to the discussion. Affirmative action is not designed to nor does it counter or affect the boost rich children get in life.

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Coming from a very modest family background, I really don't think that beyond having a roof over your head, food, and two parents that care about you, that additional wealth would really impact a child's educational outcomes that much. Private schools maybe? I dunno how big of a difference those would realistically make.

It makes a big difference in life. In the first place, the upper middle class parents I know are very careful about their children's education. They will pick up and move house to be in a neighborhood which has good schools, for example. This is not something generally available to poorer parents, who live in lower class areas, and whose schools are generally not as good because they're overrun with refugees and immigrants and problem children from welfare areas with absentee parents.

In addition, of course, one of the major benefits of being reasonably well-off is the connections it brings. Upper middle class - never mind rich - parents have friends in a position to influence hiring. Their children are more likely to get preferential treatment. I've benefited from this myself in the past and so have others I know of. Really poor parents tend to know really poor people, and are less likely to be able to get their kids that all important entry job.

Now there are no guarantees. I know of one bright young fellow from a good house who was placed on the road to success by his father's influence. He was lazy and muffed it and got fired. His father found him another job at a good wage with the company he works for. He muffed that too. Was lazy, kept sleeping in, missing work, and got fired again. He's now on unemployment, living in a ratty room with his buddy, drinking and lazing around.

So no, there aren't any guarantees. But the poorer you are the more obstacles you face. You 'can' go to university, but it's harder. You need to apply for financing, and face huge loan repayments. You often need to find part time jobs to help support yourself. Rich children have no such worries and can simply focus on their education.

Edited by Scotty

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