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Racism

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Skrentny, John David. 1996. The Ironies of Affirmative Action: Politics, Culture, and Justice in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Does Skrentny demonstrate that the affirmative action "debate" has more than just two competing arguments stemming from the Right and the Left? If so, what are these alternative arguments?

Nathan Glazer (21) was on Skrentny's committee...do you think this significantly altered the analyses presented in this book?

Martin Luther King's (30-31) and Lipset's beliefs of colorblindness...

Chapter 1: The Ironies of Affirmative Action (1)

* Affirmative action has followed other "righteous" battles in American politics, such as the abortion debate (1)

Ironies of Affirmative Action (2)

* Exceptions to difference blindness, exceptions to merit, prevail in almost all walks of American life

* "Not only do whites tend to dislike affirmative action, but it appears that the policy tends to make whites think less of African-Americans as a group" (5).

* "...affirmative action became a political possibility without the benefit of any organized lobbying for the policy" (5).

o it had almost no organized support or opposition (6)

What Is Affirmative Action (6)

* the term "affirmative action" first appeared as a part of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act

* model of civil rights before affirmative action model: "color-blind" model

o generally difference blindness or abstract individualism or classical liberalism

* affirmative action came to mean something very different from the color-blind approach:

o race conscious

* Skrentny recognizes affirmative action as a model more or less advocated in public or official statements or institutionalized in particular practices or laws, on the basis of the extent to which the following unit ideas are present:

o A requirement that employers see in their everyday hiring and promoting practices group difference and specifically race as real (rather than unreal or irrelevant)

o An emphasis on counting anonymous minorities in the workforce (rather than treating each individual as an individual)

o A de-emphasis rather than emphasis on discriminatory or racist intent and on finding individual victims of discrimination

o A de-emphasis or re-evaluation rather than emphasis or acceptance of previously accepted standards of merit (usually with a critique of the traditional concept of merit in employment as "white" or "middle class")

o An overriding concern with representation, utilization, or employment of minorities rather than stopping harmful "bigoted" acts of discrimination

Strategy of Analysis (8)

* "new institutional" theory

* American justice: inconsistent

* "...required to understand political change in general and affirmative action in particular, and that the boundaries of legitimacy and risk, as well as the logics of action, are shaped by the perceived context, by the perceived audience, of the action, and/or discourse and the assumed expectations of that audience."

* How boundaries affect change in American politics...

* "The great mass of often inconsistent, incoherent ideas of justice and desert taken for granted in myriad policy contexts forms a presumed model of general American justice or morality" (12).

* Understanding the ironies of affirmative action requires a fundamentally cultural interpretation of politics, policy, and law.

A Preview (13)

* Affirmative Action was legitimized very quickly in a very turbulent time and by a variety of people pursuing very different goals

* Affirmative action developed as a model of justice for African Americans in response to a struggle for racial equality and a racial crisis

Part I: Understanding Resistance to Affirmative Action

* Make sense of the resistance by showing what the Right and the majority of Americans take for granted

* Color-blind model

Chapter 2: The Appeal of Color-Blindness (19)

* Purpose of Part I is to show why the affirmative action model was taboo in 1964, and why so any on the Right (and in the mainstream) continue to resist it today.

* Daniel Bell, Seymour Martin Lipset, Morris Abram, Nathan Glazer

* What are the sources of the discourse of abstract individualism that is so clearly legitimate to the national audience? (22)

Institutional and Ideal Sources of the Color-Blind Model in Modern Political Culture (22)

* Max Weber, Peter Berger (22)

* Capitalism as colorblind (Marx) (23)

* Contract law (24)

* Concept of "citizen" as universalizing and individualizing is usually considered a product of the French Revolution (24)

* Enlightenment..."the pursuit of justice and progress" (25)

* larger modern product: utopian flavor (26)

The Abstract Individual Model in America (26)

* Bellah et al: Lockean tradition in American political discourse (27)

* Constitution as colorblind is ludicrous (28)

The Colorblind Model in American Discrimination Law (28)

* Colorblind model was to result in black equality, at least assumed to do so (34)

Chapter 3: American Justice, Acceptable Preference, and the Boundaries of Legitimate Policymaking

...

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