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Race & Society: Debate
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Race Relations Debate: Affirmative Action
Hugh B. Price, National Urban League Hugh B. Price, National Urban League Robert L. Woodson, Sr. National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise Robert L. Woodson, Sr. National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

If affirmative action were abolished nationwide today, how would you rate the chances of a young African-American for gaining admission into a top-flight university? Securing a well-paying job at a prestigious company?

Hugh Price's Response: We've already seen the damage that ending affirmative action has done at highly selective public colleges and universities like the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin. Heightened reliance on quantifiable measure of merit, like SAT and ACT scores, overwhelms consideration of valid qualitative indices of talent, merit and potential, like drive, determination, leadership and communications skills. This trend has placed black and Latino youngsters at a decided disadvantage in the admissions process at highly selective public institutions. All of that said, there must be increased emphasis on boosting the achievement levels of K-12 children of color.

Robert Woodson's Rebuttal: I disagree with affirmative action because it is trying to apply a downstream solution to an upstream problem. I agree with Hugh that there must be increased emphasis on boosting achievement levels of K-12 children of color. If we put the energy that has gone into arguing affirmative action into improving our education system, we would not have to be arguing about affirmative action.

Robert Woodson's Response: Affirmative action was an ambulance service that has become a transportation system. It was to be the temporary solution for a problem over the short period to level the playing field. We can no longer generalize about black America, but we can generalize about the poor. We need to look now at how to assist the economically disadvantaged of all races who are at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Hugh Price's Rebuttal: Since the advent of affirmative action, the black middle class has grown steadily. This hasnıt happened because members of the miniscule black upper class descended into the middle class. It has happened because people in the low-income and working class communities have ascended into the middle class. That occurred by dint of their personal drive and determination. Itıs also substantially attributable to the fact that, thanks to affirmative action, the campuses of historically white colleges and universities and the management ranks of mainstream employers opened up to African Americans. That said, millions of poor and minority children still lag distressingly behind in the academic arena. Improving the caliber of education they receive and, in the final analysis, elevating their achievement levels is the primary challenge facing our community today.

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Debate Topics Menu
Affirmative Action
Diversity in Schools
Economic Future
Faith Based Initiatives
Knowing Each Other
Leadership Models
Media Stereotypes
Political Power
Race in the 21st Century
Slavery Reparations


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