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Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences Hardcover – November 8, 2007
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Ward Connerly, the champion of California's controversial Proposition 209 outlawing racial preferences in state government, offers a compelling memoir and polemic with Creating Equal. Political figures don't often write books worth reading, but Connerly can both turn a good phrase (liberals, he says, "need to believe that Rosa Parks is still stuck in the back of the bus, even though we live in a time when Oprah is on a billboard on the side of the bus") and tell a good story (as when he describes tracking down his long-lost biological father in Louisiana). Connerly has generated strong reactions, many of them negative, ever since he burst on the scene as a University of California regent opposed to racial preferences in student admissions. Because he is black (or, more accurately, of mixed black, white, and Indian ancestry), Connerly was derisively labeled an "Uncle Tom" for his efforts. Conservatives will applaud Creating Equal, while many of Connerly's sparring partners will recognize its thoughtfulness: "Affirmative action was the kissing cousin of welfare, a seemingly humane social gesture that was actually quite diabolical in its consequences--not only causing racial conflict because of its inequities, but also validating blacks' fears of inferiority and reinforcing racial stereotypes." Moreover, Connerly's insider account of Proposition 209 (plus similar efforts in Houston and Washington state) will appeal to political junkies of all stripes. Regardless of their views on the philosophical content of Connerly's crusade, readers will find Creating Equal to be a surprisingly good book. --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
From Library Journal
Connerly is one of the most maligned public figures in the United States; no one can say he is dishonest, duplicitous, or confused. His integrity fairly shines, and this causes his opponents the utmost discomfiture, for not only is he personally invulnerable, his basic argument is almost unanswerable: that Martin Luther King's dream of judging people by character and not by the color of their skin should be the public policy of the day instead of race-based affirmative action or demeaning quota systems of any kind. As Connerly reads his autobiography, one senses that he has minimized the assaults he has endured. Bitterness is there, but mostly he sticks to his main purpose, to describe how he came to be and to outline the public policy ideas and events in which he has participated for many years. His early foray into California politics is described, particularly his relationship with former governor Pete Wilson and current San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, each of whom influenced him in different ways. As a reader, Connerly is effective; his performance is straightforward and uncomplicated. His voice mirrors his ideas. A vital bit of contemporary history for any public and general academic library. - Don Wismer, Cary Memorial Lib., Wayne, ME
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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A black man born in the south but raised in the West, Connerly becomes a unique figure in the fight for equal rights against racial preferences. Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences, part autobiography and part political memoir, is his telling of the events leading up to and surrounding that fight. It is a quick and accessible read, and Connerly proves to be an able storyteller, quick to turn a phrase and propound his opinion with anecdotes and colorful observations in the moment. Of the many of observations that intersperse Connerly's narrative, he often seems intent on using them to demonstrate the hypocrisy and duplicity of his opponents, especially as it regards race and preferential treatment.
Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences is a quick and accessible read. Connerly proves to be an able storyteller, quick to turn a phrase and propound his opinion with anecdotes and colorful observations in the moment. Of the many of observations that intersperses Connerly's narrative, he often seems intent on using them to demonstrate the hypocrisy and duplicity of his opponents, especially as it regards race and preferential treatment.
To be clear, I doubt that Creating Equal will persuade you to change your ideological biases, unless, perhaps, you are either one of those rare individuals that sits on the fence or a part of the legion of the majority that tends to be uninformed on the racial preferences. For myself, I opened the book predisposed to support the American creed of equality before the law and found in Connerly's words support and reason for that belief. Connerly's logic is simple and easy to follow: while Affirmative Action was intended to correct racial injustice in American political institutions, the unintended consequence was to insert preferences against certain racial groups (for example, those of Hispanic or Asian origin) in favor of less qualified individuals who happen to belong to particular racial groups. Further, by institutionalizing such preferences in, for example, the higher education system of states like California, we are not only supporting inequality for all Americans, but racially discriminating against many. It's almost an afterthought for Connerly that such preferences tend to hurt those very racial groups that they favor more than they help.
Not surprisingly, given that Connerly is black himself and took a leading role in leading the fight to remove racial preferences, first from the California Board of Regents and later in state by state initiatives, some of the most vociferous critiques against equality came from blacks who viewed Connerly as a traitor. Connerly seemed to take relish reciting anecdotes about racial slurs twisted against him by other black. The irony never escapes him.
Connerly's mission is one born of logic and reasoning, and he never hesitates to point out that even when equality lost the fight in a state (as in Florida, which he called a death "by a thousand cuts,"), voters don't hesitate to support him when the plain language is put before them. His targets for critiques aren't limited to Democrats or racial preferences' supporters--both George and Jeb Bush (as well as Karl Rove) receive their share of his ire for their unwillingness to man up for equality in their states when the politics of their future did not support it.
Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences is short, written with Connerly's flare for the dramatic, and should be a valuable addition in the history of American political thought. What it lacks in-depth, statistics, and balance it more than makes up with a narrative that persuasively describes why all Americans should care about equality. America was founded on the idea that all men and women should be treated equal before the law. If there are failings among certain groups--especially due to race--the changes need to be made where effects can be felt: in our public schools. Setting quotas that consider race, however, does not and will not assist in bringing more disadvantaged individuals out of poverty. Rather, it just prevents Americans as a whole from experiencing equal opportunity.
Readers do not have to like him or his ideas to realize that Connerly is a man a great courage. He is well known and even hated for his position on affirmative action. However, reading his elegant words within CREATING EQUAL creates second thoughts among those who are strongly opposed to his ideology. Connerly lays out how his upbringing drove him to believe that Affirmative Action does more damage than good. Most of his logical positions are solid well thought out and have a great deal of merit. Nevertheless, we can find flaws in his position.
I have actually required CREATING EQUAL to be read by social work majors who are strongly in favor of affirmative action. After reading this book, ALL of them changed their position. This is not to say that all of them started to oppose affirmative action, but clearly, their positions in favor of affirmative action were softened. Reading CREATING EQUAL creates second thoughts.
To induce students to use their critical thinking skills, I often require them to read A HOPE IN THE UNSEEN immediately after reading CREATING EQUAL. Suskind, the author of A HOPE IN THE UNSEEN, chronicles the life of an African American young man's struggle to gain an education. Cedric Jennings' life provides the strongest argument for affirmative action. It is utterly fascinating to witness students synthesizing the content of these two well-written books. So, I recommend that everyone read both books - one immediately following the other.
Here is clear and convincing evidence of the trials and tribulations a man of color is forced to confront, when he seeks "justice for all" in the one-sided, Europhobic world of "race norming" and "Affirmative Discrimination" in America.
Ward Connerly, tells how he was successful in eliminating institutionalized racial preferences in some cases -- but at great cost. Connerly is reviled by the gimme-gimme crowd headed by the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who view racial controversy as an opportunity to accumulate enormous personal wealth. Connerly writes that Jackson has called him "strange fruit," among other things. It seems many so-called civil rights leaders take advantage of every opportunity to thwart Connerly's steady march toward racial justice.
In the Spring of 2001, Justice Clarence Thomas warned: "By yielding to a false civility, we sometimes allow our critics to intimidate us. Active citizens are often subjected to truly vile attacks."
So it was for Ward Connerly, but his courage overcame the fascists' attacks. This book takes the reader along on a journey to justice with Ward Connerly -- a brave and honorable man.