Affirmative action is a method used to redress past racial imbalances and discrimination. Critics charge that it is only a form of reverse racism. Battles over affirmative action heated up in the 1970s with suits on both sides as blacks called for affirmative action to redress past discrimination and some whites challenged these rules as a form of reverse discrimination. The argument is being joined once more with debate in Congress and with a ballot amendment in California to do away with any such racial, ethnic, or gender preference in public institutions or programs. This includes decisions made in public educational institutions. Affirmative action is based on the fact that in the past, certain Americans have been excluded from full participation in American society through racial and sexual discrimination. Affirmative action is a way of giving opportunity to individuals from previously excluded groups. It may involve preferential treatment that elevates minority candidates above other applicants in order to achieve racial or gender balance. While many see the goal as valuable, many also find that this approach can lead to conflict and unfairness. Claims have been made that affirmative action makes recipients dependent and that it unfairly creates tensions with white applicants who are excluded even if they ar more qualified. Critics charge that this is precisely what has happened. In fact, affirmative action has been good for minorities and has provided them with opportunities they otherwise would not have had, and it has not unduly discriminated against whites.
Greenberg makes a good point when he writes,
The moral legitimacy of affirmative action and quotas favoring racial minorities must be assessed in a social and historical context, in the light of the many conflicting values that our society holds (Greenberg 687).
Greenberg considers the wide variety of criteria by which job and other decisions are made...