Tuesday, August 30, 2005

When Affimative Action Was White

From Gary at Amygdala:

IT WASN'T JUST PRIVATE CITIZENS or Jim Crow in general society. There was endless discrimination in New Deal programs argues Ira Katznelson in WHEN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION WAS WHITE: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America, apparently. He apparently makes the case for considering this when considering affirmative action. I'd like to read the book, but the summary here is interesting enough, and plausible on its face, to me.
He contends that those programs not only discriminated against blacks, but actually contributed to widening the gap between white and black Americans -- judged in terms of educational achievement, quality of jobs and housing, and attainment of higher income. Arguing for the necessity of affirmative action today, Katznelson contends that policy makers and the judiciary previously failed to consider just how unfairly blacks had been treated by the federal government in the 30 years before the civil rights revolution of the 1960's.

This history has been told before, but Katznelson offers a penetrating new analysis, supported by vivid examples and statistics. He examines closely how the federal government discriminated against black citizens as it created and administered the sweeping social programs that provided the vital framework for a vibrant and secure American middle class. Considered revolutionary at the time, the new legislation included the Social Security system, unemployment compensation, the minimum wage, protection of the right of workers to join labor unions and the G.I. Bill of Rights. (more)

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