1. Question 1
Affirmative action can be defined as an active effort that is made to address past injustices, so as to create a fair balance in educational institutions and work places. Race based affirmative action has been used over the years. However, researches have shown that it only serves the middle and upper class citizens among the American population (Barr, 2010). The result is that most people who deserve assistance do not get it. This is mostly evident amongst low income African-American populations. The American people have been actively seeking for alternative models of affirmative action because of these inefficiencies.
Some scholars and politicians, such as President Obama, are pushing for the implementation of class-based affirmative action, at the expense of race-based affirmative action. In class based affirmative action, the factors considered include family and neighborhood wealth, as well as school-district poverty levels amongst other socioeconomic factors. On the other hand, racial affirmative action seeks to create a balance between races, irrespective of other factors. It does not consider a person’s financial ability, intellect, or physical ability.
Several arguments have been put across to support and discredit both the racial and classical approaches. This section of the paper tackles three of the strongest arguments for class- based affirmative action.
i. No race feels discriminated against.
The primary goal of any act of affirmative action is to reimburse for historical injustices that people have had to bear. It is, therefore, necessary to develop a solution that will take everybody in consideration. In class-based affirmative action, there is no group of people that is targeted; only those who deserve assistance get it (Martin, 2001). This is unlike in race-based affirmative action where most of the recipients of affirmative action are the African American population. This portrays a message that affirmative action is primarily meant to favor African Americans at the expense of Native Americans. The Caucasian American community, therefore, feels discriminated against; scholars view it as an injustice meant to remedy an earlier injustice. Martin Luther King Junior stated that the country needs a solution that is colorblind; one that will benefit victims of historical injustices irrespective of their races (Kahlenberg, 2012). Class-based affirmative action is, therefore, better than race-based affirmative action since social classes cut across all races.
ii. Presents a more balanced distribution
Despite the implementation of race-based affirmative action in American institutions of higher learning, studies have showed that the percentage of low-income students has remained stagnant in 50 of America’s wealthiest institutions. Similar studies have also shown that class-based affirmative action yields similar racial and ethnic diversity as its race-based counterpart. However, a research carried out by the University of Colorado-Boulder established that racial diversity can be increased by structuring economic preferences (Kahlenberg, 2012). This makes class affirmative action to have an edge over race-based affirmative action.
iii. It can be monitored
The structured nature of class-based affirmative action will make it possible for concerned authorities to track its implementation. It will be possible to set economic targets and track their progress using various methods employed in class affirmative action. For instance, it will be possible to track class stratification simply by analyzing census figures. It is easy to empower people economically and track their progress. This is unlike in race-based affirmative action where it is extremely hard to estimate the right number of people from each race that should benefit from affirmative action.
This will enable the government to come up with an affirmative action strategy that can be implemented over a given timeline. Dates can be set, and milestones defined to track the progress made in the process of carrying out affirmative action. With time, the differences between classes will begin to fade, thus resulting in a society that is as united as it is diverse (Suarez, 2009).
2. What do you feel is the weakest argument?
The weakest argument for class based affirmative action is the assumption that race has become an irrelevant factor in affirmative action. This is because many injustices, no matter how trivial, are race based. Even in instances where the injustices are race independent, their levels of severity differ depending on the race in question. For instance, as much as there are low income college students amongst Native Americans as there are amongst the African Americans, one is more likely to meet a low income African American than a Caucasian. There is a general perception that white Americans are better than the minority populations; teachers tend to limit minority students to less advanced classes, perhaps without intending. These experiences are an indication that race is still a vital factor in affirmative action. It should, therefore, be considered amongst the various factors used to implement class-based affirmative action.
3. Question 3
The American society has realized that the solutions to the problems it faces cannot be solved by race-based solutions. According to polls conducted by the New York Times and Newsweek, more Americans prefer that college admissions are done based on income preferences rather than racial preferences. This presents a shift in perspective; if the public is shifting from being race oriented to issue oriented, then solutions to society’s problems have to follow suit. Class-based affirmative action, therefore, presents a better method to solve historical injustices as it promotes inclusion, rather than division along racial lines.
The government could partner with institutions of higher learning, and other interested parties, to carry out researches meant to establish the best ways in which the idea can be implemented. This will enable the country to come up with long lasting solutions to the unacceptable segregation that characterizes it. Perhaps, Americans will be able to live in a country that is free from any discrimination, a dream that many people share.
Barr, S. (2010). Weighing in: Class-based affirmative action good, but arguments against race-
based affirmative action still bad. Harvard political Review. Retrieved from
Gaertner, M. N. (2012). Assessing a new approach to class-based affirmative action. Ann Arbor,
MI: ProQuest, UMI Dissertation Publishing
Kahlenberg, R. D. (2012). Richard Kahlenberg: Time for class-based affirmative action.
DallasNews.com. Retrieved from http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/sunday-
Martin, T. (2001). The affirmative action empire: Nations and nationalism in the Soviet Union,
1923-1939 (The wilder house series in politics, history and culture). Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press
Suarez, R. (2009). Potential affirmative action policy changes focus of miller center debate. PBS
Newshour. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/social_issues/jan-