In the pursuit of racial equality (or “color blindness”) many have advocated for the use of “affirmative action.” Affirmative action is the practice of considering some quality, usually race or ethnicity (but can include things like religion or sexuality), when trying to increase the representation of a historically marginalized minority in regards to employment or education. It is often referred to as “positive discrimination.”
The Free-Thinking student will note the many assumptions inherent in this practice. It assumes there is a ruling class in the majority and that this class will inevitably seek to discriminate against those outside of it. It also assumes that any past discrimination, persecution, or exploitation cannot be overcome except by formal “reverse preference,” to level the playing field. As you work through this issue, keep these assumptions in mind, and look for other assumptions that might be operating as well.
The following sections will present two views of this debate: the conservative view and the progressive view. Carefully consider each one and then seek to form your own opinion.