What Are the Arguments in Favor of Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action is primarily lauded because of its hypothetical ability to level the playing field for traditionally marginalized groups while also making up for past injustices. Others favor affirmative action because it promotes diversity, integration and equal access to resources. Affirmative action refers to any policy that is aimed at including historically underprivileged groups into the major areas of society, such as employment and education.

Many feel that following slavery, the United States has done little to improve the status of people of color, creating a never-ending cycle of inequality. In the United States in 2012, only 18.7 percent of African-Americans above age 25 held a bachelor's degree or higher, and the poverty rate for African-Americans was 27.2 percent while the national rate was 15.0 percent. As of 2014, the average income of African-Americans was $32,436, and there have been only three African-American Fortune 500 CEOs. Supporters of affirmative action often argue that providing opportunities for people of color, and thus leveling the playing field, would help to curb the continuation of this unjust cycle and provide equal access to resources such as higher education and employment opportunities.

On the subject of diversity, proponents of affirmative action hold that not only does it foster diversity but that diversity is beneficial to all of those experiencing it. Many credit affirmative action with the plentiful diversity in most universities and workforces, and feel that diversity is psychologically and economically beneficial to minority and majority communities alike.