Affirmative action in the United States is the purposeful effort to better opportunities for protected groups (e.g., women, people of color) in workplace and education settings. Such efforts include but are not limited to targeted recruitment policies, employment procedures, and admission programs. Specialized actions seeking a balance of opportunities between groups are viewed as a solution to the effects of past discrimination and as a means to prevent further discriminatory practices. The initial quintessential form, which has been officially banned in the United States since 1978, was the method of using minority quotas. Although this active form of addressing inequity no longer captures contemporary affirmative action policies, critics have continued to describe affirmative action as arranged “reverse discrimination.” Early-21st-century efforts mainly focus on effectively ...

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