Essay on Education and Affirmative Action

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What does equality mean? For many centuries, America has had a difficult time answering that question. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, African Americans were not equal: white Americans would call them their property, put them into iron shackles, and would mercilessly beat them. From the seventeen to the nineteen hundreds and a lot longer before then, women were forbidden to vote; instead, women were expected to act as homemakers or work long hours within small factories in filthy conditions. Yet today, the issues of equality have been challenged by affirmative action. Across the nation, the use of affirmative action in education has stirred significant controversy. Some people believe that instigating affirmative action in the…show more content…
Paul Gaston, a university professor who has taught for more than 40 years, has witnessed the changes on campus after affirmative action was introduced and concluded that “before African American undergraduates arrived on campus, white students used to feel they had permission to say just about anything that came to mind about race” (Clayton). The ethnic diversity of students has made a remarkable change on campuses today. Now, students not only gain knowledge from their professors, but from their fellow students as well. “It made people [be] more honest, think harder, learn more, and be more sensitive to others,” Professor Gaston commented (quoted in Clayton). A diverse college experience encourages students acclimate to being more tolerant of diversity, thus giving them an opportunity to learn and to live in harmony with people of different backgrounds. Besides the fact that Affirmative Action can create a diverse environment, it also helps increase the chance for minority groups to get accepted into higher education systems as well. Studies have shown that students from families where few people have pursued higher education are less likely to excel in high school. On average, African American students will be four years behind the typical white or Asian student by 12th grade (Thernstrom). Two of the élite University of California campuses, Berkeley and UCLA, witnessed a dramatic decrease in African American and Hispanic
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