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In the early 1960s, the concept of affirmative action was introduced. Affirmative Action was put in place to provide opportunities to the minority, not taking in account an individual’s color, race, sex, religion or national origin. Under affirmative action, classes of people that may have been excluded from certain rights in the past would now be arranged with opportunities like jobs, housing, and education. Racism created the inequality that found it necessary to enact affirmative action laws. Allowing a diverse community of individuals, affirmative action requires jobs and even schools to hire and accept students according to meeting their quota. This policy remains a controversy issue as the Supreme Court upholds issues in Michigan even today.
Prior to putting affirmative action in place, it is not a hard task to remember back in history where “separate but equal” was said to be constitutional. The case Plessy v. Ferguson upheld it constitutionally right to have segregation in public facilities, including schools, but under the doctrine “separate but equal.” This doctrine was eventually ruled out when the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional after the case Brown v. The Board of Education. Following the Brown v. The Board of Education case, schools were no longer allowed to be segregated because “separate but equal” was not teaching students anything but that separate is NOT equal. Decades later, affirmative action was put in place under the Equal Protection Clause, ensuring that everyone get equal opportunities. However, recently Michigan voters have been on the fence about Michigan’s public universities requirement to use affirmative action and want to ban the idea that everyone get equal opportunities.
Michigan voters vote against affirmative action in Michigan and do not want the public universities to take in account a person’s race, sex or nationality. In 2006, a proposition to allow “all sex- and race-based preferences in public education, public employment, and public contracting,” was supported. However, the case Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action was presented. This case argued whether allowing public universities admissions to prohibit discrimination and treatment based upon sex, race, and national origin, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In 2012, this action was said to be unconstitutional by the court of appeals because it is discriminatory and unfair. What others fear is that Michigan’s universities would become segregated because of their admission policies. Being that universities, including Michigan’s public universities, stress the idea of a diverse population, without the requirement of affirmative action, it is a great possibility that the population will not be as diverse. This is a possibility because not everyone of different race or national origin is equally as smart.
Although the appellate court decision in 2012 ruled Michigan’s Race-Conscious Admissions policy unconstitutional, the Supreme Court reversed their decision as of April 2014. By the Supreme Court doing that, they are not ensuring diversity in the public universities. It was even seen that when the proposal was first put in place, the percentage of black and Hispanic first-year students at the University of Michigan has dropped from 12.15 percent to 9.54 percent. By not using affirmative action students are not being treated fair and the schools are not allowing equal opportunities. The Supreme Court is also allowing people to believe that race no longer matters, when in reality it still does.
Even though the concept of affirmative action was made a law, minorities still struggle with societal stereotypes, forced to work much harder than others in order to prove themselves. Although affirmative action is suppose to benefit the minority class by allowing us equal opportunities, we as the minority are forced to wonder if we are being appreciated or if we are serving as a specification. Envisioning if affirmative action laws were not placed upon the government also creates reverence that circumstances would possibly be as brutal as they were during Jim Crow days. Why should the color of our skin or our nationality be one that remains a factor when we fill out applications to further our knowledge or aid us economically? Without affirmative action, we would be forced to see the ugliness of our country that has us locked in a caste system through racism, bias laws, and socioeconomical inequality. In regards to our long term reality, it appears that no matter what laws are put in place, the outnumbered will always suffer being unaccepted, struggling for a place in society.
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