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For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law [Kindle Edition]

Randall Kennedy
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC


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Book Description

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding Fisher v. University of Texas, For Discrimination is at once the definitive reckoning with one of America’s most explosively contentious and divisive issues and a principled work of advocacy for clearly defined justice.
What precisely is affirmative action, and why is it fiercely championed by some and just as fiercely denounced by others? Does it signify a boon or a stigma? Or is it simply reverse discrimination? What are its benefits and costs to American society? What are the exact indicia determining who should or should not be accorded affirmative action? When should affirmative action end, if it must? Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School professor and author of such critically acclaimed and provocative books as Race, Crime, and the Law and the national best-seller Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, gives us a concise, gimlet-eyed, and deeply personal conspectus of the policy, refusing to shy away from the myriad complexities of an issue that continues to bedevil American race relations.
With pellucid reasoning, Kennedy accounts for the slipperiness of the term “affirmative action” as it has been appropriated by ideologues of every stripe; delves into the complex and surprising legal history of the policy; coolly analyzes key arguments pro and con advanced by the left and right, including the so-called color-blind, race-neutral challenge; critiques the impact of Supreme Court decisions on higher education; and ponders the future of affirmative action.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kennedy, a Harvard law professor and ­social critic, addresses one of America’s most contentious issues—affirmative action—on two fronts: the color-blind, race-neutral ideal and the need to address the impact of both past and contemporary racial discrimination. Analyzing the Bakke decision, which justified affirmative action in the absence of a court or legislative finding of racial discrimination, Kennedy argues that the underlying justification for affirmative action that is race sensitive will survive Supreme Court scrutiny with likely modification. But he focuses on the diversity function identified in Bakke, arguing that diversity has been overemphasized to the detriment of compensation for past discrimination. Kennedy examines the race-neutral ideal and the presumption that all discrimination is bad. The book’s title reflects Kennedy’s promotion of positive discrimination as he argues that the Constitution is neither color-blind nor unaware of racial discrimination as reflected in the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. This is a probing and well-considered look at the complexities of race relations and the continuing controversial issues of affirmative action in contemporary America. --Vernon Ford


“Randall Kennedy’s For Discrimination is arguably the most clearheaded defense of affirmative action ever written. Kennedy’s incisive analysis includes a compelling critique of a range of arguments by legal experts and social scientists on the pros and cons of affirmative action. In clear prose For Discrimination advances powerful arguments for sensibly defined affirmative action. This thoughtful book is a must-read for all Americans devoted to addressing past and current injustice.”
—William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

Product Details

  • File Size: 1454 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B009KT7WLM
  • Publisher: Pantheon (September 3, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009C97328
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #550,768 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biased but a must-read ! December 8, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Most interesting and clear presentation even though I happen to disagree with the author. On the whole slightly biased but should make some readers comfortable about positive discrimination.
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13 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The race Industry September 18, 2013
Randall Kennedy was admitted to Yale Law School because he was black. As a result, he now writes books about his race. He is not the only one-a quick look at any library's social science shelf reveals that race is indeed an industry.
That being said-it is a well organized narrative. He is passionate believer in the continuing need for affirmative action. Moreover, he doesn't much care about how it is accomplished or what it is called. For Kennedy by any means necessary would be an apt mantra.
Unfortunatly, for Kennedy the law doesn't work that way. He makes clear for example, in Gratz v. Bollinger the Supreme Court struck down the University of Michigan's point system for admission to its undergraduate programs.(Kennedy calls it The Colleges of Literature, Science and the Arts-a bit of a dodge) For those like Kennedy who take who take a no prisoners approach to this issue it was quite a blow. On the other hand in Grutter v. Bollinger the Supreme Court upheld the University of Michigan's Law School plan which argued that admitting a critical mass of minority students was compelling and warranted. Again Kennedy makes it clear that this meet the Court's strick scrutiny requirement. Whether or not one agrees that decision was unique.
The book is quite readable. Again, Kennedy is passionate but he is not a prig-he wants to be understood and that is a good thing. However passion often makes for poor scholarship and a far as that goes I'll be generous and give him a C+. I don't understand for example why he throws the Korematsu case into the mix like a dead cat. It had nothing to do with affirmative action. Lastly,his footnotes and citations are at best middling. So far there is little evidence that diversity enhances scholarship or has any affect on learning or I.Q.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult Justice for a hard topic January 7, 2014
It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a book on affirmative action. I’ve been applying for some “diversity and inclusion” positions on college campuses, and it annoys me more than a little bit when job counselors (and others) tell me to avoid talking about affirmative action. But now I have been able to enlarge the understanding I have had for affirmative action, thanks to Harvard Law School professor and author Randall Kennedy, with For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law (N.Y.: Pantheon, 2013). This is a book which puts me back in the company in which I want to be.

My own take has been that affirmative action is simply the effort(s) employers make to see that their workforce roughly reflects the demographics of the community in which they are located. Kennedy, goes so far as to assert that the courts are the major culprit in making a mess of what affirmative action really is and isn’t, so I don’t entirely blame myself for the mis-underinterpretation. He sets that forth, as an esteemed friend of the court, that affirmative action is: “policies that offer individuals deemed to be affiliated with a beneficiary group a preference over others in competitions for employment, education, or other valued resources” (p.20). For me his working definition is significant in two ways. First, I had to change my own particular mind set; it can’t be about demographics per se because minorities continue to come to employment and higher education, in particular, without the background and contacts to be able to efficiently navigate their way to equal opportunities.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A first class publication October 30, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I haven't yet had a chance to finish it - too many other commitments. But the issue is extremely well presented, and the arguments are well thought out.
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4 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 50 Years Since the March on Washington But ............. September 5, 2013
Diversity promotes the highest level of education that one could ever experience. On September 3 pick up a copy of For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law (Randall Kennedy). For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law is the voice about how affirmative action is shaping our Country.

August 28, 2013 marked the 50 years since the March on Washington (initially March on Jobs and Freedom) and we still have a long way to go. When will it change? Has anyone ever considered that if the wrongs that were done over 50 years ago were made right, schools were made equal and underrepresented and socio-economic businesses were given ample opportunities for increasing their revenue stream that we would not need affirmative action or any other programs to level the playing field?

There are some States that lack diversity therefore their people lack it. The people do not realize the essence of what diversity can bring from a 3D perspective to spirited conversations. One's culture, insight and upbringing makes a big different in any setting.

Without affirmative action we become stagnant and stale. Without affirmative action there is no room for growth. Without affirmative action we become one-dimensional in our interpersonal relationships. Without affirmative action we fail.

This thought provoking book helps the reader better understand affirmative action and its effect on this Country.

Recommended. Pick up your copy today.
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