American Morning

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July 17th, 2009
06:38 AM ET

Is affirmative action still necessary?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Barack Obama walks onto stage to speak at the NAACP annual convention July 16, 2009 in New York City."]

With the election Barack Obama, some people are taking a second look at affirmative action. After all, they say, if an African-American can become president, does the nation still need a government policy to address the effects of past discrimination?

“We’ve come a long way in this country,” says the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell. “It is time that we say no to quotas and racial operate on racial preferences and quotas is idiotic and counterproductive.”

He’s not alone.

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that by a 55–36 margin that Americans believe it’s time to abolish affirmative action.

“American Morning” sent producers to the streets of New York and Los Angeles, two of the most liberal voting big cities in the nation, to get reaction. Just as in the poll, most people were not fans of affirmative action.

Here’s a sample :

Sarah Moe: “I don’t see the point in it anymore.”

Dean Glorioso: “So, is it time for it to go away? Yes, why not…”

David Lee: “I believe affirmative action should have never been in place in the first place. I mean there are tons of minorities who are successful. I mean, my parents came from nothing. They’re immigrants. I’m still considered a minority...I mean we all faced the same challenges in the same world.”

Christian Castillo: “I don’t think people really need it anymore, so why do we have something we don’t need?”

Jabulani Leffall: “I think it’s still relevant in spirit, but maybe needs to be changed in practice”

Steve LeGrand: “200 years of slavery and 100 years of Jim Crow, and only having really full equal protection under the law for about 40 years, I still think we have a lot to undo...I’m very much for affirmative action.”

Liz Lopez: “There will always be some group that needs it...”

Legrand and Lopez are joined by Cathy Areu, founding publisher and editorial director of Catalina magazine, which caters to Latina women. Areu told CNN that “affirmative action is definitely not the greatest solution. I mean, I think it’s a band aid solution for a problem that needs open heart surgery. But don’t take away our band aid. We need that!”

Sonia Sotomayor, who this week answered questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on her qualifications to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court, calls herself “the perfect affirmative action baby.” She told a law panel in 1994: “I am a Puerto Rican born and raised in the South Bronx, and from what is traditionally described as a socio-economically poor background. My test scores were not comparable to that of my colleagues at Princeton or Yale...if we had gone through the traditional numbers route of those institutions it would have been highly questionable if I would have been accepted.”

Would Sotomayor today be on the verge of ascending to the highest court in the land without affirmative action?

Is she proof that the program has succeeded? And if so, is that a reason to keep the program, or abandon it?

What do you think? Is affirmative action still necessary? Tell us your thoughts.

Filed under: Just Sayin'
soundoff (282 Responses)
  1. Robert Vinson Brannum

    Yes affirmative action is still needed, otherwise there would not be a Carol Costello, Soledad O'Brian, Fredricka Whitfield, Suzanne Malveaux, TJ Holmes, Don Lemon, or Rick Sanchez at CNN, just John King, John Roberts, Wolf Blitzer. Jack Cafferty, and Lou Dobbs.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  2. Diego

    I think affirmative action should be based on social class rather than race. I see that the biggest hurdle to one's success is the lack of opportunity to reach their goals, not due to race, but rather due to their social economic class. It's hard for anyone, no matter what race, to advance through society from a impoverished home and I think by opening up the doors for these folks, it allows them to advance their social class and therefore making our country a better place. I don't think race should be the determining factor though and to think that way is a bit narrow minded.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  3. Sileshi

    Yes, affirmative action is still necessary, because since the unemployment rate for blacks (14%), and Hispanics (12%) is high. These numbers reflect the reality. First let's level the numbers and then we can get rid of it.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  4. Carolyn Belle Lyday

    I have taught for 30 years. We still need affirmative action in this country. One of our most cherished core values as Americans is equal opportunity for all. Yes, we have come along way towards realizing that goal, but it doesn't take much examination of socioeconomic demographics to see that there is still not a level playing field in this country. Nearly three hundred years of slavery and the institutionalized advantage and privilege that created for European Americans cannot be dismantled in a couple of generations. Among us are many gifted women and people of color whose voices and leadership we need in every arena in American life. We white Americans need to understand affirmative action and need to get to know personally the wonderful diversity of our nation instead of fearing it. We are on our way, but we have not arrived yet.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  5. Misty

    I live in middle America and we are truly a melting pot. I work at a large public university where diversity is key. I think affirmative action has outlasted it's usefulness. It is time in this country to realize that we need to stop complaining about things being unfair and start doing whatever it takes to reach our goals. There was a time when affirmative action was necessary to make a more even "playing" field but today we have had years of education that didn't see a difference in race or gender.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  6. Nick Parker

    Affirmative action was put into place to help minorities get jobs at a time in our history when they being subjegated. Now it is no longer necessary; even though racism still exists, it has diminished dramatically. People should be given jobs because of their merit, achievements and work ethic, not because of the color of their skin.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  7. Matt R

    I personally think that it still should be needed, theres still racist people out there, not as much as it was pre- affirmative action back in the 60's and 50's, but I think that if it was forgotten, that we would as a nation creep backwards alil bit.. And some people have criticize as reverse racism, I really dont agree with that argument either. Its really about fairness..

    July 17, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  8. Denise

    I totally agree with the woman who said that AA will be necessary until American society stops classifying people. The funny thing is that I cannot imagine that happening anytime in the next 3 or 4 generations. People of privilege have the ability to think about AA from a privileged view point. The low income or impoverished people of America who still need the assistance of AA need to be given the chance to be educated, so that they can be able to speak about their plight in a way that will be respected by the privileged.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  9. Bruce Marshall

    If we keep it then I think the Senate and House should comply and if we do it will be gone so fast.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  10. Ray

    Affirmative action should be ended. The Connecticut Firefighter case is a great example. Minorities want a test that isn't just based on job knowledge and performance but also on race specific info. What a joke. Judge Sotomayor should be ashamed of her ruling on the case.
    If money is a problem then lets address that issue. If an ethnic minority is less qualified it's not right to give that person a job/college because he/she is a minority. It's reverse discrimination.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  11. Patricia Murphy

    The Valley Swim Club debacle demonstrates that the playing field is not level: can we think that the high income members actually hire people without considering race, if they can make such hurtful comments in the hearing of young children? Without affirmative action how long would it take to return to the bad old days? I am white.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  12. Lillie

    When urban public schools consistently perform on par with their suburban counterparts, we can certainly end affirmative action. However we currently saddle too many of our children with a substandard education. Until then we will continue to suffer the ills of segregation as surely as we did before Brown V Board of Educaiton, and we will continue to need Affirmative Action.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  13. john

    The unemplyment figures still show minorities unemployed at twice the majority vote. How can you expect minorities to compete when their elementary and high school environments are totally abysmall. Affirmative action must be for lower income people without regard to race. As long as affirmative action has been racialised there is always going to be tension among the "aggrieved" race.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  14. Jared Salinger

    Yes, affirmative action is still necessary, until, in this country, we see equality; not the type of equality that is "given", but equality that is recognized and embraced by all.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  15. Kevin

    Affirmative action should stay in place, the reason why is that in the city where I'm from, Detroit, the opportunities for african americans are far outweighed with the WRONG Opportunities. I went to a school where I was a minority and poor, and I did not feel like I was poor because I had a chance. Affirmative Action may have gave me that, and now I am in college. America is about helping the little guy, or in the streets of Detroit, few will live and most will die, and that is what affirmative action is for.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  16. Steve

    I believe the disparities that still exist stem largely from poverty. It feels more and more like there are two Black Americas, two "typical" experiences for women, etc., depending on whether the people involved were raised with enough resources or not. Maybe we shouldn't completely scrap Affirmative Action but replace it with something that offers a hand up to young people who were raised poor.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  17. Jeremy Goldbach

    Of course affirmative action should stay in place, and if anything, expanded. Any one who says that we have reached a point where races, genders, religion and social class are "no longer an issue" are almost always part of the supermajority (White Christian Men) who have owned the current system since it was created. We have discriminated against entire groups of people for hundreds of years, in ways that we would condemn other countries for doing, and it will take more than being "colorblind" to fix the mess that the supermajority created.

    And yes, I am part of that supermajority, and still know this is true!

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  18. Jane Fried

    What we really need is an understanding that equality and being the same are two different things. We all benefit from multiple perspectives, but we don't need to give advantage to one perspective which we call the truth. Just look at the Sotomayor hearings. What the white guys think is presumed to be accurate. Anybody else's perspective is considered a "viewpoint." Affirmative action brings all kinds of perspectives together. If all it is is a bean counting process, it's worthless. If it makes us learn to understand each other, it's priceless. Barak Obama's experience at the slave dungeons cannot be the same experience as a trip by a white person but both perspectives are incredibly important if we're all going to understand each other and work together to solve problems.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  19. Jo Jones

    Affirmative Action is important in America and other places founded on the same bloodshed. We have a Black President because there were no other qualified Candidates! Hello people not because things are equal. As long as I am stalked like an rat in a cat's nest at Neiman Marcus because of my Black Skin we need it. I am successful, smart, intelligent, and have my own money....but I still get treated like crap at high end stores, or many 5 star hotels. I have bell men and front desk folks give a double take as to say " Shouldn't she be entering through the Colored area". Get a clue and a history book. This is a very racist country. A great Country but ...........

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  20. HJW

    I think that affirmative action is still very relevant and important. People have assumed that because there is an African American president and a woman Secetary of State that it is not needed. Those are the minority and the majority of jobs and positions are still very much held by the majority. Until the number of minority positions held equal the amount of minorities in the population then we still need that assurance that it is required to fill a number of positions with minorities.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  21. Pat Genereux

    We still need the person said, when we can say here is our nominee, and not qualify it with some racial description we may just be there...but whites may want to consider that in some 50 years when they are the minority their grandchildren may need the leg up...just a thought!

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  22. Mike

    I believe that one day affirmative action will no longer be needed. But as long as there are barriers that stop EVERYONE from achieving the SAME basic foundations there will be CERTAIN situations in which affirmative action will still need to be practiced.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  23. shyruraah

    u cant not deny that people need help. i wish that there was a better way to go about the practices, but all in all we still need it. Live in americas is not going to change over night just because we have a black president. Even he cant fix americas need over night. affirmative action will b a hard lesson learned because people still dont practice it.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  24. Chau

    I think "class" based affirmative action is better than "minority status" affirmative action. You see people of all stripes who need a chance/boost/whatever, but the thing that is most likely to bind them is their socioeconomic status, not a minority status.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  25. Bill & Sheila Bonnell

    It is definitely time to put affirmative action to rest! Accomplishments should always be rewarded, not color!

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  26. Sharon,Daniel Island, South Carolina

    As the mother of black male children, in the south. I say please keep affirmative action in place

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  27. Michelle Williams

    No. Affirmative action is still neccessary. While there have been advances there is still a lot of catching up to do. What is the rush if races and genders could be denied for 200+ years I it might take more than forty years to balance the inequality. manage it better – YES, get rid of it NO.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  28. Monica

    I grew up in a poor, rural, northern town with very few minorities and plenty of peers who could have used a scholarship to college, but their parents couldn't even afford to put food on the table. Too bad they were white – they were very smart students, but when we opened the book of scholarships there was nothing for them.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  29. Mike D

    AA should be eliminated. It should never have been implemented in the first place. It's discrimination against other groups in lieu of minorities who may not be as qualified as those the minorities are opposite.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  30. marty

    Time for it to go away! It does not applaud competence! Who wants to go to an affirmative action doctor? Not me!!

    July 17, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  31. nancy

    it's time to get rid of affirmative action

    July 17, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  32. Fran B. Reed, MPH

    We should get rid of Affirmative Action in 20 years, one
    generation. By that time the plane should be level.
    I'm Caucasian, age 71, and when I was looking for work,
    there was a great discrimination against women. There
    Even with a master's in health, I couldn't get a job because the
    jobs were in the men's column. By 2019 things should be
    fair, and we can discard this as a needed crutch of the past.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  33. Eric N.

    Affirmative Action has strayed from its original goals in my opinion. A rich Hispanic or African American should have no preference over a rich white, both who were probably given the same access to good school systems in their under 18 years. Instead we should consider implementing a system which focuses on class, rather than race.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  34. riconysm

    Yes Affirmative Action is still necessary, but I wish it wasn't. If everyone could learn to see others as just people and not as black, white, asian, or whatever, then we wouldn't need it.

    Do not be fooled into thinking that just because we have an African American President and one (soon to be) Latina Judge on the Supreme Court that race relations have improved for everyone! There is still plenty of racial and gender discrimination that affects this country.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  35. Russell

    Everyone seems to put an african american face on affirmative action.However,historically white women have benfitted from affirmative action than any other group.Check the stats.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  36. Stephen Conard

    Affirmative Action is a policy instituted to raise up a group or group that are being pushed down. Are we all on the same level? I wish I could say yes, however I am not blind and neither are our minorities. There needs to be a revamp of the program if anything. But until we are all functioning on the same level Affirmative Action cannot be gotten rid of, according to its purpose.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  37. Toni L.

    I find it hypocritical that those who benefited from affirmative action now call for its end. It reminds me of the wealthy who benefit from the infrastructure built by our taxes who don't want to pay taxes. Discrimination is still alive and well in our society-we still have a long way to go.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  38. Paul

    There is nothing more racist than afirmative action, it is as much as saying that one race is inferior and needs help to compete against another.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  39. Eric

    I'm in the group of the most discriminated people in the United States... I'm a single, white male, with no children.
    I have a bachelor's degree and years of experience, but still, after more than a decade of trying, am unable to land a permanent career position with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, or even a state land management agency. If I was black, hispanic, or a woman... I would have found a good job within a matter of days... certainly not years or in my case never. If they want to keep AA, then it should benefit those whom are mostly descriminated against... single white men with no children. Thanks.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  40. Al Irvin

    After listening to the line of questions from Senator Sessions, I think Affrimative Action programs are still needed.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  41. Bernadette Loesch

    Dear Carol, If it could be guaranteed that all the safeguards for minorities would be preserved. If we wouldn't have ANY backslidding in the progress that has been made as a result of Affirmative Action. Why would you poise this question in the first place, to create unnecessary controversy? Justice Thomas' view of the world at large is shaded by his experiences in life, he is not a good example in your piece.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  42. Adia

    Of course it is! If we still have to mention that someone is a minority when we speak of them, it is definitely still necessary.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  43. Jake

    Considering that Sotomayor was put up on the stand, and challened for her views, I wanted to point out a couple of relevant concepts. The first is color blindness. This is the belief that all people are equal and that any differences in the power structures in society are from natural causes. Although people who espouse these beliefs are good intentioned, the issue is that they do not recognize their personal responsability in institutional and cultural levels of racism, have less empathy for out groups, and typically have fewer inter-racial/ethnic relationships with folks of equal status. Typically, this also results in what is called covert racism (as opposed to overt) and an unwillingness to commit to social change. Social change necessarily requires those who are advantaged by the color of their skin to give up their unfairly earned privilege (which is an unarguable fact), and is the basis of affirmative action at the systemic level. The republicans challenged Sotomayor because she has said that her perspective as a Latina gives her an advantage that other white people won't have on the supreme court. She was called racist because she doesn't espouse a colorblind attitude like other politicians on Capitol Hill. This is an injustice, and the power structures are wiggling at the uncomfortable fact that the meritocracy that they believe in is not as perfect as their privilege (of being white) has led them believe. Coming into contact with folks of other races, ethnicities, or cultures is a cognitive dissonance causing experience which sometimes has the effect on increasing the ethnocentrism of those individuals who are challenged on their beliefs (I got to where I am solely because of my merit and hard work as an individual vs. I got to where I am, partly due to unfair privilege based on my skin color and the exploitation of other minorities).

    July 17, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  44. Neal Biron

    It has it's place during formative years, providing educational opportunities for any diadvantaged children / teens / or to provide educational services for unemployed adults, regardless of race; but it has no place in in civil service selection, job selection, job promotion considerations, etc.

    If equality is the basis of our society, then use Af. Action to gain equality in merit, through opportunity; but to deny greater merit in the name of justice is the greatest injustice of all.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  45. Mitch Dworkin - Dallas, Texas

    With nearly every big issue, there are extremes on both sides. The issue of affirmative action is just like that in my opinion. I think that one extreme is affirmative action must take place even if there are truly more qualified people for the job which test scores or some other tangible method can show. The other extreme is no affirmative action whatsoever where employers can discriminate on purpose.

    The answer to this question like with every other major issue I have seen is somewhere in the middle in my opinion. Affirmative action should exist to keep employers honest in the hiring process where they cannot discriminate but it should definitely not guarantee a lesser qualified person a job when they really and truly do not deserve it. In other words, nobody should get a job just because of their race or color alone but they should get the job if they are truly qualified for it regardless of what an employer thinks about their race or color.

    I definitely believe that Sonia Sontamayor is “the perfect affirmative action baby” which is what she called herself and I would bet anyone a thousand dollars or more that she would not have been nominated for The Supreme Court right now if she was not a Hispanic woman.

    What is not being talked about right now is that President Obama is an affirmative action President. Geraldine Ferraro was absolutely right when she said that Obama would not have been where he was if he was not black. Even CNN's own Roland Martin who is an Obama supporter said on CNN that Obama's race was an issue in the 2008 election. I would also bet anyone a thousand dollars or more that Obama would not be President right now if he was not black and I am a person who agrees with many of Obama's policies and who definitely wants Obama to succeed for the good of the country!

    Affirmative action in my opinion is completely out of control right now when it is a major determining factor with who becomes President and who gets nominated to the Supreme Court. The most qualified people should definitely get those jobs in my opinion when so much is at stake if the wrong person becomes President, gets on the Supreme Court, or gets some other very important position because of their race or color as opposed to how truly qualified they are compared to other people!

    Sonia Sontamayor is probably qualified to be on the Supreme Court but I am sure that there are many other people who are more qualified than she is who more than likely would have been considered if race did not play a role in Sontamayor's nomination!

    Mitch Dworkin

    July 17, 2009 at 8:22 am |
  46. Bernice

    Bye bye Greg and Matt. So saddened to see you go so quickly! Go to NBC! There is "cherry coated" news for you! You may find some sympathizers on there, but this issue today was not about gay rights! It was about rights and equality for all based on color and race! I am sure that you will have another good arguement for the gay community in the future. This blog is really not about that issue. Good luck to you tho!

    July 17, 2009 at 8:22 am |
  47. Bernice

    One of the quickly growing groups having to deal with racial discrimination is now becoming the white American male! This non sence needs to end! End this before you fuel the fires of racial discrimination again in the future. The minorities have come a very long way, but it is not only the blacks having this problem. The whites do too. So does the women!! Terrible what happens to a woman in a "mans world" (the work place). Come to think of it, I had a black boss at that time!! So, what does it matter?? Racial discrimination happens to most all groups of people and I believe it will be this way till the end of time! Its not just color and race. It is religion... It is sexual orientation, it is handicaps, and this list goes on! It's not just the black community having to deal with this issue, it is just them who like to keep throwing fuel on the already out of control fire! This really does need to stop! Look at the American Indian, for example! Although they got the short end of the stick, and are discriminated against worse than ANY race on the planet, they do not whine! They hold love for all of mankind! Maybe we should take a lesson from what they teach! They deserved thier freedom! We stripped EVERYTHING from them, and do to this very day! If anyone has the RIGHT to complain, it would be the Indian! This was THIER land to begin with!! (yet no one shows them one ounce of respect) Stop the afirmative action now! It is DISCRIMINATION! What you need to do is put a sock in the mouths of some of the "political preachers" and start looking into equality for all of the people! Then, and oly then, will it be possible for the Americans to just be equal AMERICANS! Not black, not red, not yellow, white, or green! Ok... I may have a problem with green! lol

    July 17, 2009 at 8:13 am |
  48. Thomas

    Yes it is still needed and if we didnd have it would be a desaster arround workforce that's overwhelmingly own and manage by my white Bros ans Sis. The AA does not ask them to hire unqualify applicants, it asks them to look at everyone and be divers. I'm a retail store manager and it deplorable how people ignore others bcause of their color. the argument of those who oppose the AA usually give arguments with unfounded notion of people being unqualified, it's a slap on the face for people like me or Barack Obama.

    July 17, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  49. Arthur M. Rosen

    Thank you Carol Costello for raising the unraisable. Preferential treatment was never appropriate and makes little sense now. All immigrant groups suffered some form of discrimination and, like Asian groups today, they met it by working harder and smarter. It would be far more productive if those feeling discrimination today found relief by following this example rather than by looking to the government for preferential treatment.

    CNN might also examine itself as an example of preferential treatmant run amuck.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  50. C. Clarke

    Oh my goodness!! Where's Kiran? Mrs. Carrol is just about to make my head explode with her senseless interviews. I know she's trying to make some contrast out of nothing, but please, be prepared before the interviews.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  51. CAROLYN F.


    July 17, 2009 at 7:43 am |
  52. Lisa

    Yes, it will be wonderful to get rid of Affirmative Action. It would be great for people to be hired based on merit, instead of quotas. However there are still groups of people who still cry wolf, racial predjudice, so that they can get their way. They remind me of small children. I am looking forward to getting rid of this Affirmative Action and just having a World where people are looked at as equal, despite their skin color or gender. Is it too Ideal for the moment?

    July 17, 2009 at 7:35 am |
  53. Greg & Matt in Houston

    All this talk about discrimination in 2009 and not one mention of Gay Americans. A group that is vocally and openly discriminated against every day. Oh yeah, sorry, we forgot CNN is only concerned with being Black in America and Black in America2. Soledad Obrien says "You will not be able to tear yourself away..." Well we ARE about to be able to tear ourselves away....away from CNN and away from their advertisers.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:30 am |
  54. Doug

    Affirmative action is discrimination. It hurts the very minority it is suppose to help and it hurts society in Harrison Bergeron style. I am frustrated when I hear reference to “Reverse Discrimination.” All men and women are suppose to be equal under the law, but we assume whites need to be kicked in the teeth to give others opportunity. White males are the only unrecognized minority in the U.S. Today.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:27 am |
  55. Pete Frierson

    My comments are this regarding affirmative action; If race relations were on a true positive note, then I would say it would be time to think about ending it. However, race relations in America is worse now in retrosp[ect than in many years. While some would argue that because of the election of the president, it proves it's time. I disagree because I see in my everyday life how skin color makes a difference. Doors are not truly opened, it is painted with washable paint that can go in any directions depending upon a given situation.

    I would hope that in America that in the next 25 years, all God's children would be treated equally arcoss the board. My late mother use to say, " They let you get high, but not close in the north and in the south they let you get close but not high". An aspect of race relations and politics. It's time at all cost to see Amerincans as one.

    I am reminded of this, "what's fair is not always equal and what's equal is not always fair". It's time to let God be our judge and not man or woman.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:27 am |
  56. Teresa

    Some form of affirmative action is still needed. I am a female firefighter that only recieved a chance at becoming a firefighter because my fire department feared being sued after years of keeping woman out. I joined the fire department in 1991. That's 18 years ago. Black men didn't get a chance to join the fire department in any real numbers until the late 1970's. So no I do not think that say forty years of finally being given a chance replaces hundreds of years of being kept out. Unfortunately discrimination still exist esp. within the fire service. And lastly we must look at the educational system in the United States. It was just reported that blacks and Hispanics still lag as it relates to education. Until that to changes affirmative action is needed!

    July 17, 2009 at 7:26 am |
  57. Dionigi

    We need to remember the treacherous history beyond AA particularly as it applied to African Americans and Women before the 60s. I personally feel that AA has no value as a multi-lingual African American with a BA in INR, instead we have a whole new dynamic in the country that the media refuses to address. During this unrelenting economic downturn, after being laid off from work; however diligently in search of a job every single day that I have been unemployed, and going through a series a interviews, I have been refused work simply because I am not Hispanic. Dozens of employers and placement agencies have refused to hire me becaue I am not Hispanic, and they tell me that it's because I "dont' speak Spanish" but I do. I went through an extensive interview with Brother International, and ultimately the HR Director told me "Although I feel you are an excellent candidate for this posistion, we are looking for someone who is very strong in Spanish." Hispanics are allowed to speak mediocre to poor English but White, Black and Asian Americans are now expected to speak excellent Spanish? Sounds like reverse discrimination!

    July 17, 2009 at 7:25 am |
  58. Pastor Stehen T. Nichols

    As long as people are still being judge by the color of their skin rather then the content of their character affirmative action is still necessary. When black children have the same opportunities in the public school systems as white children then we will no longer need affimative action. But in the real world many black children have to be extremely passinate about their education just to break even with the average white child. The best educators refuse to teach in the inner city schools which gives many upper class white student an advantage. Many programs in the inner city schools are not being funded finanical which causes the books, materials, computers, just not be there.
    Let's be real and honest...blacks in America have always had to do more with less resources but they are still here and we can't forget them.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  59. Ralph Engel

    In the late 1960s I headed the award-winning student newspaper at a major law school. We learned that the law school at a secret affirmative action program. For fear that exposing it would stigmatize the minority (and, perhaps, some female) students we printed nothing about it.

    It's now 40+ years later. Women and minorities have made vast progress, and the time has come when people should be admitted to school, hired and fired based solely upon how well they have done or are expected to do, without any consideration of race, gender, religion, etc.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  60. JEFF in NJ

    Why did CNN cut off the quote on discrimination that the President gave just now? Suspiciously leaving off his comment about gay brothers and sisters? You included the black woman, latinos, muslims, then cut off his line about gay brothers and sisters. Was it because one of your guests, Mr Dyson has been less than supportive of gay and lesbians?

    July 17, 2009 at 7:19 am |
  61. Andrea

    First, I would like to commend CNN for covering this topic–it's an important one. There are a few things that should be addressed before having this conversation. One is to cover what affirmative action actually is, which I think stirs a lot of the debate. One misnomer is that affirmative action is meant to be a quota system–it is not. Affirmative action is meant to give all people an equal opportunity realms such as the job market, education, etc. Again affirmative action is not a quota system. It does not say that you must have 5 women, 5 African Americans, 5 Latinos, etc. It just says that you should consider qualified minorities without bias the same way that you consider white men.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:18 am |
  62. Janet

    Affirmative action is necessary. As a country we have not all learned to embrace each. Until everyone see each other as an American and not prefixed by a descriptive word affirmative action is necessary. Born Jamaican but I am now a proud American. I love the motto of my homeland because I believe it aptly apply here in America "Out of Many, One People." When we can say this with pride then at this point we don't need affirmative action because the playing field is level and all have the same opportunity to excel. What we do when we are at this point as a nation would seek to advance all, no matter our racial and gender persuasion. I love America. Change is not easy but we can.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:16 am |
  63. Andrew Graves

    Here we are in 2009 still talking about affirmative action. I was in elementary school during the height of the civil rights movement, and I can still remember when affirmative action was set in motion. It was the worst thing that could have happened to "Blacks in America". I believe that qualified men and women regardless of race or gender should be considered for employment based solely on their qualifications. Affirmative action is a broken crutch that has out lived its usefulness and should be thrown away.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:14 am |
  64. John

    Just because someone with wealth and privilege and people who never understood the need for affirmative action to begin with say affirmative action is not necessary does not mean there is no longer a need for affirmative action.

    I think it's insulting to showcase examples of minorities saying affirmative action is a bad thing, when the majority of those people do not represent the experiences of the majority of people of color or disadvantaged groups generally. Those people become tokenized as spokespeople for the majority groups. It's like saying, if this one black person or woman has stopped "complaining' then why can't you?

    Just because Obama is president, Hilary Cilinton is secretary of state, Thomas is a justice, and Sotomayor might be a justice does not mean we should pat each other in the back and congratulate ourselves of overcoming a nighmarish era in American history, both for people who experienced discrimination and those who spent their energies claiming "it" was never that bad to begin with.

    If you go to public schools in Los Angeles (where I have worked for more than six years), you will find schools that have to be described as de facto segregated.

    Los Angeles is terribly segregated, and schools in low income areas are not only overwhelmingly populated by black and latino students, but are also underfunded due to the fact that schools in lower income areas get less money than schools in higher income areas.

    There is still an unequal playing field, and it is cruel to tell some people that they should work harder and stop making excuses or "cheating the system" f when other groups get financial and educational privileges and claim they did so because of their inherent superiority (and better study habits).

    Of course you can point at a couple of examples and say things are better, but the majority of senators are still white and men. And isn't it ironic that Sonia Sotomayor has to be accused of being a "racist" by a senator (Sessions) who once claimed that the KKK was not so bad until he found out they smoke marijuana.

    So NO THINGS ARE NOT BETTER, and people who don't understand the nature of injustice and the current plight of minorities in the US will obviously not understand that.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:13 am |
  65. Farley Flex

    While the successes of individuals like "soon to be" Justice Sotomayor, President Obama and others deserve to be celebrated, what is really important is to recognize that the racial groups that they represent still have disproportionately high representation at of the bottom all the critical categories of concern – household income, rate of incarceration, AIDS, high school dropout rates, early pregnancy, the list goes on. When these groups who represent a particular % of the population only represent that or near that in in any of the above categories, then and only then will some version of "affimative action" no longer be necessary.

    Check out overall corporate appointments relative to race!

    Farley Flex, Ajax Ontario

    July 17, 2009 at 7:10 am |
  66. Linda Anderson Raffington

    "When a group of children can attend a camp, go to a local/private or public swimming pool and participate without prejudice, second throught or incident...then affirmative action can go away...forget about the political status quo...when our future can be secured in this way then we will not have to affirm our status anymore.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:10 am |
  67. Abigail Burns

    ABSOLUTELY affirmative action should, at this point, be completely disregarded. I am a 35-year-old white woman who, in my entire life, has never looked at race as any kind of issue at all. If anything, programs like "Black In America" and the "Black Music Awards" separate us and take us on a backward slide. It needs to become a non-issue – until then nothing will ever be able to truly change.

    Incidentally, I feel the same way about recent comments about our beloved Michael Jackson's career. As much as I loved him, and love him still, I never saw his "color" as any big deal. If it hadn't been him "opening the doors for african-americans" it would have been someone else. The fact is that the times have changed and no one single person can be held responsible. It is all of us as a unit that have accomplished that, and subsequently made programs like affirmative action completely irrelevant.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  68. Raymond

    Is Affirmative Action still relevant, listen to Zell Miller, Pat Buchanan, and Rush Limbaugh and you'll have your answer. The sad part about it is we have young people coming along to replace Zell, Pat, and Rush. It is a vicious cycle.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:09 am |
  69. Marcus

    I am amazed that so many people believe that affirmative action is not necessary. Look around the workplace, minorities still are a very small percentage. Do people really think that without affirmative action they would still be given the same opportunities by those in power. This is naive. Just as with slavery people always want to move on and forget the past. You can't, there are lessons here that must be remembered.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:08 am |
  70. Cory

    Affirmative action creates an environment of racial discrimination and distrust. Our goal should be that race and gender do not enter the thoughts and culture of employers and fellow workers. Such true racial equality can never be pervasive with government enforced racial discrimination in place. It is time to end affirmative action.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:07 am |
  71. Bryan Sloat

    Affirmative Action is outdated, the majority of Blacks and Hispanic children are getting into esteemed colleges and universities because of their scores on the S.A.T.'s, G.R.E.'s, M.S.A.T.'s and L.S.A.T.'s. Those that come in via guaranteed transfer programs from community colleges with a G.E.D. realize they need to work harder if they are to remain, however none of these minority individuals need Affirmative Action.

    Affirmative Action in the workplace is racist as it gives the less qualified minority individual an edge over a better qualified non-minority individual.

    It is time to terminate the Affirmative Action Program!

    July 17, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  72. todd

    if you have a field full of sheep. then you realize that you dont have any goats. its going to take some time of allowing just goats in the gate to make it even. when the field looks even than the gate letting the the sheeps and the goats through should be even. i still look at the class of young men coming into my field 15 years after i have and the number are so far off.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  73. John

    AA is outdated, even if there is a seeming disparity in racial distribution in some instances. It drives me crazy. On one hand we want to celebrate diversity. I like that a lot. But that means celebrating our cultural differences for the benefits and joy they bring. And those cultural differences are infused into each individual. If we are indeed diverse, then why should every profession, every group, every college department, etc. appear to be a random sample of us? We can't have it both ways. We're either different in a good way, or all the same in a good way. Which is it? I believe we are all equal in rights, but all different in the ways that make us great together. We're not a melting pot, we're a salad bowl, and thank goodness the tomato tastes different than the cucumber.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  74. Profbam

    The US has come a long ways. The covenants for the house I bought in NC in 1982 and lived in for 18 years stated that I could "house a colored domestic on the premises but could sell the house only to a Caucasian Christian." That was written in 1940. Better, yes; color blind, no. Do the experiment: look through the help wanted adds, write up some resumes, make duplicate resumes with either a white sounding or a black sounding name and see how many you have to send out to get a response. A few years ago when this was done, it took 10 times more applications for a black sounding name to get a response. Unless that changes, affirmative action at least to hold the door open will be necessary.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  75. Syrita Jackson

    Do we still need affirmative action? Of course we do! With headlines like...the achievement gap between white & black students is narrowing...and the U.S. nominates its first Latino Supreme Court would seem obvious that we still need affirmative action. Slavery existed in N.America for about 200 years; Jim Crow, legalized the 2nd class citizenship status of black Americans for the next 100 years, is it really possible that in less than one third of that time we have leveled the playing field for minorities in this country? Affirmative action is not fair, neither was slavery or Jim Crow but it is the RIGHT thing to do. Amends must be made. Society has a debt to pay, affirmative action is just a small part of the bill.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:05 am |
  76. michael armstrong sr.

    Its time to stop blaming white America for being able to pass a employment test jobs go to the best qaulified and thats the way it should be when you put an uncualified person in charge then you put peoples lives in danger and the futhure of a company in danger in other words no afirmitive action this policy is reckless to the health of our country.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  77. todd

    affirmative action was not brought about because things were fair. It adds a fairness along with diversity to the work place. I will say that the test that are given needs to be revamp with general knowledge question for all, but if math and reading skills are not passed regardless of race you should not be admitted to the job/position you desire. Basically it shouldn't be done away with, but revamped for fairness to all.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  78. mjg

    When we can say the quality of inner city schools is equal to that of suburban schools, then affirmative action won't be necessary. When equally qualified and skilled minorities and women are paid the same as the majority, then affirmative action won't be necessary. When legacy points are no longer in place at major universities and colleges, then affirmative action wont be necessary. When, on average, a minority or woman has the same opportunity to succeed and access to resources as the average majority male, then affirmative action will no longer be necessary.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  79. Jo

    Affirmative action is still necessary in this country, because the old practices still alive everywhere; during job interviews, look at how Sonia suffered during her hearing confirmation. All the focus was on Latina comment instead of her work as Judge. Black and Latino kids were denied the pool in Pensylvania.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  80. Daniel D'Agostino (

    Absolutely, affirmative action is still needed since there are clearly inequalities in the US. It's not based on the achievements of individual minorities, it's a tool to help level the playing field to ensure that minorities have the same number of opportunities available. Without affirmative action, there would be less opportunities available for minorities. There is no doubt in my mind that eliminating affirmative action would be counterproductive.

    -Daniel D'Agostino
    Austin, TX

    July 17, 2009 at 7:03 am |
  81. justice hoffman

    i believe that affirmative action had its place and has served its purpose. our country has changed. it seems to me that having things like affirmative action and even entertainment channels like BET are holding our country back from changing even further.

    a " white middle class" student who has a 4.0 and a perfect record is judged more harshly by college standards than a "female minority" with the same grade. however, the "white middle class" is seen as a group of americans who posess every opportunity. it seems as though " equal opportunity" is only granted to certain groups of people...

    affirmative action is no longer needed

    July 17, 2009 at 7:03 am |
  82. Kwabena Falson

    It wouldn't if "Affirmative Action" had been truly fully embraced by America/Americans. From it's inception, Affirmative action was under attack to undermine it's promise. Look at the statistics of African/Hispanic progress in America and any reasonable, rationale, fair minded person could easily understand that "legislated fairness e.g. Affirmative Action" is needed now as much as it has ever been.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:03 am |
  83. Frank Quintana

    Affirmative Action Programs must be kept in place, until the educational field in America is made level, provided a quaity education for all our childresn..There is still too much inequity in the quality of education provided our children.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:02 am |
  84. SueSue

    Yes, it's time to abolish all quotas and affirmative action. You have to remember that every time a job or opportunity is given to somebody to fill a quota, somebody who was more qualified was passed over. This, in itself is unfair. It's also counter-productive.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:02 am |
  85. Andrea Nartey

    To know whether affirmative action is still needed, one must look beyond the occupant of the white house and a few successful actors and entertainers. Their success, while amazing and inspirational, is but a blip on the radar in terms of the legacy of oppression and discrimination that people of color have experienced in the US. Moreover, many focus on the supposed lack of fairness in affirmative action. It may not be a perfect system. In reality, few systems are. But as long as the inequities in opportunity, wealth, and educational opportunities persist, there will be a place for affirmative action in our society.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:01 am |
  86. Gene

    When we can say there is no more "Old Boy Network", we can say it's time to get rid of affirmative action. Otherwise, there is still a place for affirmative action.

    Albany, GA

    July 17, 2009 at 7:01 am |
  87. Heyward

    I noticed the majority of people you interviewed do not a have history in America of being LEGALLY discriminated against as American Blacks were. Nice try, Carol but it that doesn't work. Do you really believe that 45 after the Civil Rights Bill was signed Blacks have had the playing field leveled or equalized. The problem is that all other groups who NEVER has the history of legalized discrimination in this country benefits from the affirmative action program. Yes Affirmative Action is needed and it should be directed and geared toward Black Males who are discriminated against and lag behind in all statistics. When a White male with a criminal record can become employed before a Black man with no criminal record, I say things have not changed that much. Sadly that still is the case in pockets of America.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:01 am |
  88. Dan Greenburg

    I agree that affirmative action based on race should be eliminated. I don't think people like the children of Pres Obama or Colin Powell should be eligible for affirmative action anymore.
    I would shift affirmative action focus to economic disadvantage rather than racial. For example, the kids from Appalachia or children of indefinitely unemployed iron workers regardless of race start out in life with the unlevel playing field that the affirmative action laws were meant to address.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:01 am |
  89. Allen C.


    I really think that AA has outlived it's usefulness. In many respects, I think it was a necessity to try to balance the playing field, but there is also merit to the argument that it promotes reverse discrimination through it's intention to promote fairness. Hire the best qualified and you cant go wrong.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  90. Deborah Jackson

    No affirmative action? This from a caucasian woman whose journalistic "skills" are so blatantly scarce, affirmative "action" surely played a role in her professional rise. It's so typical of white people and all their decendents who have never suffered in this country to downplay the value of the need for affirmative action. It's so easy to go out on the street and find other racists or self-hating blacks to denigrate affirmative action. RACISM EXISTS IN AMERICA, Ms. Costello - whether you choose to broadcast it on AM FIX or not. Get real! You show how out of touch with the "real life in America" by your bigoted and racist commentaries.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  91. Austin

    Affirmative action may have been necessary at one point in our history, but no longer. The racial prejudices and biases were once so rampant this was something that made things more fair, but now with those prejudices severely weakened it actually causes prejudice. People who have no racial bias now have to consider race, and others who don't get jobs because of affirmative action often develop racial bias because of it. We should just stop considering peoples sex and race all together. It also causes people of race to not work as hard because they know that they can get a job with less work or not work as hard to keep their job because they can claim racial bias.

    This quota system is outdated and broken. It needs to be removed.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:00 am |
  92. AT of Philly

    Affirmative action is still necessary because racism is still very real in 2009. The denial of the black children to swim at the pool club which has been highly publicized by the media over the last week is just one small example of the need. This happedned openly but there are many private incidents that affect minorities in their everyday lives.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:59 am |
  93. Samantha

    Affirmative action is absolutely still necessary. Just as the election of Barack Obama does not mean racism has disappeared, it also should not be used as an example to overturn affirmative action.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:57 am |
  94. Jean

    I do hope Justice Sotomayor will be sworn in as the new Supreme Court justice.

    I do not think she is the right person for the job but today, qualifications no longer matter. I think she will prove to be a complete embarrassment to America at some point.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  95. Cathy

    Absolutely!!! Discrimination against women and minorities within the workplace is very much alive and thriving. I work in a white male dominated profession in corporate America. Minorities of all races are noticeably unrepresented in the upper and executive management positions as well as high end technical and engineering managerial positions. It is also very noticeable ithat minorities are not very noticeable within the military branches as well.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:53 am |
  96. Cal Castaneda

    When someone says, "It's time to end affirmative action," what I, as a Chicano, interpret that to mean is: "One of you is enough."

    July 17, 2009 at 6:52 am |
  97. Stephanie M

    Affirmative Action is simply racial discrimination with another name. Our federal government is the single worst offender in promoting and prolonging discrimination, by continually dividing us all by the color of our skin. To give someone an unfair advantage or deny someone equal treatment, just because of skin color or national heritage, is counter-productive to the elimination of bigotry.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  98. Glinda

    As long as there is a Zell Miller and his ilk, there will continue to be a need for Affirmative Action. To actually want "gorilla glue" for the POTUS says it all.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  99. Matthew

    I think that AA is ultimately self-defeating; it gives rise to an option for minority applicants to slack off and "cheat" the system, while forcing majority individuals to work doubly as hard and succeed anyway. The President adequately addressed this yesterday in his speech pushing minorities to work harder. Does AA serve a good purpose at the moment? Yes. Are we to a point that it needs to be completely scrapped? Probably not. Scaled back, incrementally? I think that's the right course.

    July 17, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  100. Ranga Seshadri

    A single tree does not make a forest – a single woman/hispanic judge/african american president does not make a trend. When we ignore to refer to Sonia Sotomayor as the first hispanic judge/the president as the first African American president, then we would have arrived as a society................

    July 17, 2009 at 6:45 am |
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