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Reverse Discrimination (also sometimes called "reverse racism" or "positive discrimination") is, in its simplest form[1], the practice of favouring a historically disadvantaged group at the expense of members of a historically advantaged group.

The term "reverse discrimination" reflects the belief that the group now being discriminated against had previously been the one doing the discriminating. The term is often used to describe the perceived discriminatory effects of government policies (most notably affirmative action).

In the United States

In the United States, the terms reverse discrimination and reverse racism have been used in past discussions of racial quotas or gender quotas for collegiate admission to government-run educational institutions. Such policies were held to be unconstitutional in the United States, while non-quota race preferences are legal.

Harvard professor Roland Fryer, however, has argued that there is no logically tenable difference between "quotas" and "goals." [2] The most significant United States Supreme Court case regarding reverse discrimination is Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

Critics of affirmative action

Critics of affirmative action claim that it is racist and/or sexist. This criticism is met with complex arguments that try to state that although affirmative action does discriminate on the basis of race and/or gender that this discrimination is acceptable because of past injustices.

In the United Kingdom

In the UK, the term is usually related to university admissions or employee hiring. [3]

In India

For example, in India, the term is often used by citizens protesting against reservation and quotas.[4][5][6]

See also


  1. Compact Oxford English Dictionary[1]
  2. Harvard Econ Department - Contact Info for Roland Fryer
  3. Encarta[2], Wordsmyth[3]
  4. Devanesan Nesiah. Discrimination With Reason? The Policy of Reservations in the United States, India and Malaysia. 1997. Oxford University Press. 0195639839.
  5. Excess reservation will cause reverse discrimination, cautions Supreme Court
  6. R. Kent Greenawalt. Discrimination and Reverse Discrimination. 1983. Knopf. ISBN 0394335775.

External links

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