In this piece, Nathan Palmer discusses why racial educational inequality remains a problem and the role affirmative action plays in addressing it. After her application was denied inAbigail Fisher sued the University of Texas arguing that as a White woman, her race was an unfair and unconstitutional impediment to her pursuit of a college degree.
When Affirmative Action Was White: I was presiding over a classroom of about twenty undergraduate students, trying desperately to moderate a discussion on the legacies of the civil rights movement. It started the way it normally does, "The movement gave blacks equality; I don't see how you can approach it as anything other than a victory.
It solved America's race problem. Just look at our inner cities and crime among black youth and poverty among minorities. Civil rights was about more than the right to vote!
Call it the difference between red states and blue states, the suburbs and the city, or white individuals and black individuals; many Americans simply disagree over how the United States should remember and interpret the social revolutions of the s and early s. One can speculate that Ira Katznelson Affirmative action racial inequality been listening to some version of this exchange since he first entered academia in Having written extensively on urban politics and liberalism, his new book, When Affirmative Action Was Whitejumps into the fray by analyzing the issue of affirmative action.
The book is held together by one overarching theme. As New Deal politicians Affirmative action racial inequality constructing government programs to deal with welfare, work, and war in the s and s, they deliberately excluded or treated differently the vast majority of African Americans.
The central reason, according to Katznelson, was because Democratic leaders needed the support of southern representatives in Congress to pass their ambitious legislative programs.
Framing the entire New Deal coalition as a Faustian bargain between white progressives and white segregationists, the author shows how the South used its influence to gain local control over federally-funded government projects. The result was that federal aid in the South became contingent on southern Jim Crow.
At the exact moment when the "activist" state was giving whites the tools to create a robust middle class, African Americans were being systematically isolated from the benefits of public assistance.
Stated differently, "affirmative action" did not emerge as a new program in the late s. According to Katznelson, it had deep roots in the s and played an active role in exacerbating the socio-economic chasm between whites and blacks in the post-World War II years.
When Affirmative Action Was White elaborates on this core theme in four stages. First, the author looks at how African Americans were denied access to economic relief during the New Deal. Although many federal officials understood that black sharecroppers were the hardest hit group during the Great Depression, a full 65 percent of African Americans were denied access to social security benefits, government grants, elderly poor assistance, and unemployment insurance.
Administered by local politicians throughout the South, New Deal relief programs were simply not given to the vast majority of African Americans. The result was the deepening of black rural poverty. Similarly, southern segregationists skewed the natural direction of worker reform.
Positioning the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act as key moments in America's modern labor movement, Katznelson shows how southern congressmen incorporated provisions into legislation that exempted agricultural and domestic labor.
Consequently, while white workers throughout the United States gained the means to organize and improve their standard of living, the sectors dominated by African American workers were left to languish in further poverty. When blacks finally gained access to some industrial jobs during World War II, southern congressmen conveniently abandoned labor reform and helped pass the Republican Party's Taft-Hartley Act According to Katznelson, Taft-Hartley not only placated the labor movement in the South, but it also decoupled the burgeoning connections between civil rights agitation and demands for economic equality.
The final two prongs of When Affirmative Action Was White look at the wartime experiences of African Americans and the discriminatory dimensions of the G.
While white ethnics from eastern and southern Europe experienced a revolutionary transformation in their status as American citizens because of their participation in World War II, blacks experienced segregation in the armed forces.
In the years that followed the war this exclusion resulted in a cruel catch, as most African Americans were denied access to the resources of the Selective Service Readjustment Act because they had not served in the military. The federal government stepped in to pay mortgages for white veterans and upgrade educational institutions throughout the country, but most African Americans watched these developments from the sidelines.
The cumulative effect of these policies was the widening of the economic gap along racial lines. When Affirmative Action Was White concludes with the recommendation that contemporary American policymakers deal with these legacies by reexamining Lyndon Johnson's original vision for affirmative action.
Relying heavily on Johnson's Howard University Commencement Address, the author posits that the 37th President of the United States understood the importance of ambitiously attacking the root causes of discrimination. Katznelson suggests, toward this end, that rather than providing additional resources for a thriving black middle class, the federal government should create a temporary aid program to uplift the urban and rural poor who have been most afflicted by racial discrimination.
An extension of affirmative action, in the author's mind, would end the need for state-sponsored compensation within a generation and create a truly "color-blind" society. When Affirmative Action Was White offers a worthwhile contribution to the debate over affirmative action, but not without shortcomings.
First, Katznelson's argument would be more compelling with a better exposition of how New Deal and Fair Deal programs secured the social well-being of white ethnic groups.
Demonstrating the discriminatory features of federal programs is not necessarily the same thing as proving that they functioned as "affirmative action" for eastern and southern Europeans.
The author briefly comments on the experiences of Catholics and Jews in his chapter on World War II; these comments could be elaborated and deepened. On a more substantial level, Katznelson's emphasis on the culpability of southern representatives in Congress is not completely satisfactory.Affirmative action was designed to help racial inequality with respect to class stratification, not to resolve class inequality.
The class stratification is a by-product of a capitalistic economic system. When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America [Ira Katznelson] on urbanagricultureinitiative.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
A groundbreaking work that exposes the twisted origins of affirmative action. In this penetrating new analysis (New York Times Book Review) Ira Katznelson fundamentally recasts our understanding of twentieth-century /5(98).
Aug 28, · WHEN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION WAS WHITE An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America. By Ira Katznelson. pp. W. .
Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White: The Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth Century America.
Paul Kivel, Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic (eds), Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror. On a vote, the Supreme Court rejects a challenge to a voter-approved Michigan law that bans the practice of affirmative action for college admissions.
Learning Objectives. Summarize the debate over affirmative action.
Describe any three policies or practices that could reduce racial and ethnic inequality in the United States.