- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (August 17, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393328511
- ISBN-13: 978-0393328516
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 66 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Rather than seeing affirmative action developing out of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, Katznelson (Desolation and Enlightenment) finds its origins in the New Deal policies of the 1930s and 1940s. And instead of seeing it as a leg up for minorities, Katznelson argues that the prehistory of affirmative action was supported by Southern Democrats who were actually devoted to preserving a strict racial hierarchy, and that the resulting legislation was explicitly designed for the majority: its policies made certain, he argues, that whites received the full benefit of rising prosperity while blacks were deliberately left out. Katznelson supports this startling claim ingeniously, showing, for instance, that while the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act was a great boon for factory workers, it did nothing for maids and agricultural laborers—employment sectors dominated by blacks at the time—at the behest of Southern politicians. Similarly, Katznelson makes a strong case that the GI Bill, an ostensibly color-blind initiative, unfairly privileged white veterans by turning benefits administration over to local governments, thereby ensuring that Southern blacks would find it nearly impossible to participate. This intriguing study closes with suggestions for rectifying racial inequality, but its strongest merit is its subtle recalibration of a crucial piece of American history. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Katznelson places into contemporary context the cause of racial inequity that is directly related to government policies, which are widely believed to benefit blacks but which have actually benefited whites. He eschews the more generalist focus on slavery and white supremacy as the causes of racial inequality and focuses on government policies of the New Deal and post-World War II distribution of veteran benefits. He identifies in a practical sense government policies, most of which appear neutral on their face, that were designed to restrict blacks and, in fact, impeded them from progressing commensurate with white America. The war economy and labor needs expanded opportunities for blacks and substantially reduced economic disparities. But postwar policies to promote home ownership and labor laws regarding minimum wages deliberately excluded blacks. Other policies providing the engine that produced today's middle class, including the GI benefits that financed college education, reinforced the discriminatory patterns. By connecting the dots, Katznelson provides the foundational basis that justified affirmative action for blacks, as the disparities are an outgrowth of government policies and practices. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.