Affirmative action policies were created to increase the representation of women and people of color in the workforce and on college campuses. But how affirmative action goals are implemented has been challenged in courts and public opinion since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law.
Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a commissioner on the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights, is a vocal opponent of affirmative action programs. “What concerns people is preferential treatment based on race, which is just another way of saying discrimination based on race. You can’t prefer one race without discriminating against another race,” she said.
Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Boston University Center of Antiracist Research, told CBS News, “If we as a nation are serious about creating equity and justice, we have to institute programs that have been proven to create more equity in our schools, in our colleges, and our workplaces.” He added, “Affirmative action programs in education have been demonstrated to increase diversity and increase access specifically for underrepresented groups.”
CBS News spoke with individuals about their thoughts and experiences with affirmative action.
“The thing about affirmative action is, as a Black person, you never really know whether it’s affecting you,” said Coleman Hughes, a recent graduate of Columbia University. “I suspect that I would have gotten in [to Columbia] if I were White or Asian, but I don’t actually know that as a matter of fact. For some Black people, that creates a sort of imposter syndrome.”