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What is affirmative action?

It is not uncommon to hear about racial tensions, discrimination or other issues in the news. While many like to believe race discrimination is no longer an issue, it still happens everywhere, even in Missouri. Because race issues are so engrained in this country's history, the government has taken steps to try to even the playing field and help minorities to have equal opportunities. One such move was the creation of affirmative action.

Many people do not clearly understand what this is and how it works. According to the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, affirmative action includes any measures taken to prevent discrimination or actions taken to put everyone on even ground to assist those minorities that have faced discrimination on a large scale in the past.

It is a common misunderstanding that this means a company, school or organization has to set quotas and make sure it has a certain number of people within its group that are from minorities. Many also believe that it means a person may be hired or admitted into a program based on race alone. These things are both incorrect.

What it does mean is that organizations need to fix any barriers that could prevent minorities from having as good of a chance as others to become a part of it. They should create outreach programs and recruit minorities if regular methods fail to reach them. They may also create new opportunities that appeal to minority groups. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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