No foreplay today, getting right to the issue...
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-=[ The Curious History of Race Preferences ]=-
Their leaders seem more intent on vying with blacks for permanent victim status than on seeking recognition for genuine progress by Hispanics over the last three decades.
-- Linda Chavez on Latino/as
Linda Chavez, an anti-affirmative
You might know of Chavez, she testified recently against Supreme Court Judge Sotomayor during Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. Chavez has a particular dislike for Latino/as in general and specifically for Puerto Ricans, but I will not explore that today. I will address her sub-standard scholarship and self-loathing when I address Black and Brown conservatives. Chavez had to step down as a nominee for Labor of Secretary under the catastrophe known as the Bush II administration because, yes, she hired an illegal
Therefore, if I call Chavez a hypocrite (she admonished
Chavez and other racial conservatives believe the
Ironically, the current debate over race-based solutions assumes that the only beneficiaries of these policies are blacks, other racial minorities, and women. However, if we define affirmative action as “race and gender preferences codified into law and enforced through public policy and social customs,” then it is indeed strange and peculiar to suggest that affirmative action began when in 1963 President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925. Taking the above definition, often cited by opponents of affirmative action like Chavez, it would be more accurate to mark the beginning date for this legal policy as 1641. That is when laws specifying rights to property, ownership of goods and services, and the right to vote, restricted by race and gender, were first enacted. In 1790, Congress formally restricted citizenship by naturalization to “white persons,” a restriction that would stay in place until 1952.
Understood in this way, affirmative action has been in effect for 367 years, not 46. For the first 330 years, the deck was legally stacked on behalf of whites and males (Fredrickson, 1988). Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, in Dred Scot, didn’t mince his words when he said: “Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported to this country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community, formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled to all rights, and privileges, and immunities guaranteed by that instrument?” Justice Taney’s answer to his own question leaves no doubt. We the people, he stated, was never intended to include blacks, slave or free. The authority cited by Taney in his ruling? The Constitution, the courts at every level, the federal government, and the states -- all having routinely denied blacks equal access to rights of citizenship (Harding, 1983).
It follows, then, that from the inception of the
However, we don’t have to go back three hundred years to find the roots of current white privilege. We can look at more recent policies that have been instrumental to racial inequality. But that’s for another post...
Fredrickson, G. (1988). The arrogance of race. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
Harding, V. (1983). There is a river: The black struggle for freedom in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Steinberg, S. (1995). Turning back: The retreat from racial justice in American thought and policy. Boston: Beacon Press.