Affirmative Action policies originated in the 1960s as proactive efforts to promote equal opportunities for ethno-racial minorities within businesses and educational institutions. Considering the statistics that show that white males receive more favorable occupational placements and higher earnings in comparison to ethno-racial minorities across the board, it becomes apparent that the basic structure of life in the US reinforces barriers for minorities due to discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin, and sex.
Past discrimination has led to deep-rooted intersectionality between race and socio-economic status, which complicates racial relations today. This intersectionality plays an important role in explaining why entho-racial minorities have a more difficult time achieving equal status, when it comes to higher education and employment, than their white counterparts.
We have seen some improvement in the number of non-whites entering the workforce because of a recent demographic shift. This shift involved growing ethno-racial diversity in younger cohorts of the American population, which, in other words, means that the population of ethno-racial Americans is growing over time. If this shift were to continue in the absence of counteractive forces, such as continued discrimination or the reinforcement of entho-racial privilege, we would likely see much more diversity among the middle and upper sectors of the labor force. However, given our reality, it is clear that diversification requires proactive assistance through governmental and institutional efforts.
Affirmative Action could allow us to develop a basis of diversity that would likely continue and grow with time although its impacts can be difficult to identify and measure. While social mobility is likely going to continue to be difficult to attain in terms of socio-economic status, affirmative action could help provide a basis of diversity that can continue to function in the future, as diversity breeds further diversity. The natural progression of an increasingly-diversified population, coupled with the promotion of equal opportunity through incentivizing educational institutions and employers, could effectively work to create the conditions for an ethno-racial boundary change to occur.
While pursuing higher education can be difficult for many families, as it is a major expense, it is important to keep up the momentum of Affirmative Action efforts so we can start seeing more diversity among college graduates. Historically, elite colleges and universities reserved spots for wealthy, predominantly-white Americans. While we are seeing some progress, minorities continue to be severely underrepresented on college campuses.
According to the college enrollment and student demographic statistics collected by a team of researchers from educationdata.org in March of 2021, there has been a 39.6% increase in the number of Black or African American students among the student population since 1976. Still, only 9.6% of students are Black or African American.
The Hispanic or Latino population has experienced a 441.7% increase since 1976, but they still only make up 19.5% of the college student population.
It is important for minorities to take advantage of these diversifying efforts to help promote social mobility, diversify college campuses and work forces, and make college admissions more equitable.
Image Creator: Honggi Zhang ~ Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto