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Affirmative Action

Essay by   •  June 11, 2012  •  Essay  •  794 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,029 Views

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An individual's life achievements are a product of the privilege that he/she has been granted based on a variety of societal factors: race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.. Those who are born into positions of less privilege, in turn, have fewer opportunities for achievement than those born into positions of higher privilege. Thus, the concept of "evening the playing field" such that all individuals enjoy the same level of opportunity is not to increase the privilege of those at the bottom of the spectrum, but rather to remove the privilege from those at the top. In doing this, opportunity will be accessible to all based on their talents and abilities rather than on their position of privilege within society.

Affirmative Action attempts to accomplish this task. The policy aims at removing barriers that prevent those who are not fortunate to have been born into positions of privilege from actualizing their potential. Without such a policy in place, this potential is silenced and the cycle of privilege continues.

In the United States, our culture, even in the 21st century, is still largely patriarchal. Such a focus on male privilege oftentimes prevents women from having the opportunity to harness achievements similar to those of men. Women with similar backgrounds, talents, and abilities are not afforded the chance to hold positions of power or trusted with holding key positions in business. In an attempt to appease women, they are often allowed to move-up the corporate ladder just to a point below where the privileged men sit. This is commonly referred to as the glass-ceiling. In this society, women are allowed to advance, but only up to a certain point. This particular practice is a manifestation of male privilege; limiting the opportunities of women so that they cannot achieve to the same level that their male counterparts can.

Additionally, the same cultural concept of male privilege extends itself to racial privilege as well; with white males holding the largest privilege of all cultural groups. White males are capable of exerting unsought racial dominance through their positions of privilege. Having been born into such privilege, white males receive the message that acts of racism are simply acts of meanness towards someone of a different race. When they do not exhibit these behaviors, they do not see how they are contributing to racism. They are in fact culprits of racism simply through the accepted practice of propagating white male privilege, and in effect suffocating black opportunity.

Simply by being born white and male, these individuals are plagued with the responsibility of maintaining the privilege that goes along with these characteristics. Thus, just by their existence, they prevent those in different racial groups and genders to have lower privilege. In many cases, these men are unaware that they are even in a position of privilege, assuming that their

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