What are affirmative action policies or programs

Subject: General Questions    / General General Questions

Chapter 5 of the textbook identifies affirmative action as one of the major issues in today’s civil rights debate.

What are affirmative action policies or programs, and why are they controversial?
Supporters of affirmative action argue that it is intended to level an uneven playing field in which discrimination still exists. What do you think? To what extent is our society free from discrimination?
Third, how has the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in affirmative action cases? This is where your reading of chapter 5 of the textbook comes into play. You must support your answer(s) with some of the more recent and applicable Supreme Court cases mentioned in the chapter or that you find elsewhere.
Lastly, are there alternative policies that our government can enact that can be effective at reducing inequality in our society but less controversial than affirmative action, such as the one that Texas is using for college admission in the state?