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by economic hardship or by attending schools with few resources), affirmative action provides educational opportunities and a chance to prove that they can achieve.
Racial and sexual barriers still exist in our society: affirmative action attempts to create a level playing field to help people compensate for that fact.
So, I've come to see the debates over affirmative action and other race-conscious education policies as moral disagreements that stem not only from obvious factors like racism, but also -- and importantly -- from differing conceptions of central democratic ideals, in particular equality, liberty, and diversity.
These debates are the result of profound disagreements between those who believe that democratic ideals require equal opportunity policies like affirmative action and those who believe that similar or parallel ideals instead require abolishing them.