affirmative action

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affirmative action (usually uncountable, plural affirmative actions)

  1. (uncountable) A set of policies or programs providing advantages for people of a group who are seen to have traditionally been the target of discrimination
    • 1996 November 10, Sam Howe Verhovek, “Vote in California is Motivating Foes of Anti-Bias Plans”, in The New York Times[1], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Several proponents of affirmative action who were interviewed cited the scandal to dismiss the notion, advanced by some opponents of the policy, that America has moved beyond racial discrimination.
    • 2000 May 20, “After Affirmative Action”, in The New York Times[2], ISSN 0362-4331:
      California's decision in 1996 to outlaw the use of race in public college admissions was widely viewed as the beginning of the end for affirmative action at public universities all over the United States. But in the four years since Californians passed Proposition 209, most states have agreed that killing affirmative action outright would deepen social inequality by denying minority citizens access to higher education.
    • 2016 June 23, Richard Primus, “Affirmative Action in College Admissions, Here to Stay”, in The New York Times[3], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Justice Ginsburg has long argued that percentage plans are just as race-conscious as traditional affirmative action: They seek to increase enrollment among minorities, and they work because the high schools are segregated.
  2. (countable) A specific policy with such a goal.
    • 1995, Gene A. Lew, Perspectives on Affirmative Action and Its Impact on Asian Pacific Americans:
      The debate on specific affirmative actions has similarly been reduced to mean quotas and preferential treatment of minorities and white women at the expense of white males.



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