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Notes of a Racial Caste Baby

Notes of a Racial Caste Baby: Color Blindness and the End of Affirmative Action

Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 238
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  • Book Info
    Notes of a Racial Caste Baby
    Book Description:

    The Constitution of the United States, writes Bryan Fair, was a series of compromises between white male propertyholders: Southern planters and Northern merchants. At the heart of their deals was a clear race-conscious intent to place the interests of whites above those of blacks. In this provocative and important book, Fair, the eighth of ten children born to a single mother on public assistance in an Ohio ghetto, combines two histories--America's and his own- -to offer a compelling defense of affirmative action. How can it be, Fair asks, that, after hundreds of years of racial apartheid during which whites were granted 100% quotas to almost all professions, we have now convinced ourselves that, after a few decades of remedial affirmative action, the playing field is now level? Centuries of racial caste, he argues, cannot be swept aside in a few short years. Fair ambitiously surveys the most common arguments for and against affirmative action. He argues that we must distinguish between America in the pre-Civil Rights Movement era--when the law of the land was explicitly anti-black--and today's affirmative action policies--which are decidedly not anti- white. He concludes that the only just and effective way in which to account for America's racial past and to negotiate current racial quagmires is to embrace a remedial affirmative action that relies neither on quotas nor fiery rhetoric, but one which takes race into account alongside other pertinent factors. Championing the model of diversity on which the United States was purportedly founded, Fair serves up a personal and persuasive account of why race-conscious policies are the most effective way to end de facto segregation and eliminate racial caste. Table of Contents A Note to the Reader Acknowledgments Preface: Telling Stories Recasting Remedies as Diseases Color-Blind Justice The Design of This Book Pt. 1. A Personal Narrative Not White Enough Dee Black Columbus Racial Poverty Man-Child Colored Matters Coded Schools Busing Going Home Equal Opportunity The Character of Color Diversity as One Factor The Deception of Color Blindness Pt. 2. White Privilege and Black Despair: The Origins of Racial Caste in America The Declaration of Inferiority Marginal Americans Inventing American Slavery The Road to Constitutional Caste Losing Second-Class Citizenship Reconstruction and Sacrifice Separate and Unequal The Color Line Critiquing Color Blindness Pt. 3. The Constitutionality of Remedial Affirmative Action The Origins of Remedial Affirmative Action The Court of Last Resort The Invention of Reverse Discrimination The Politics of Affirmative Action: Myth or Reality? Racial Realism Eliminating Caste Afterword Notes Index

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2798-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xxvi)
    (pp. 1-66)

    I have lived in Ohio, North Carolina, California, and Alabama. In each place, most blacks, whites, and other minorities live separate lives. Most blacks are poor and live in isolated, self-contained slums. They attend segregated schools that are poorly funded, overcrowded, and in need of repair. Most whites live away from them, in other sections of the cities or in the suburbs. Most of them attend better-funded, less crowded, newer schools. Other racial enclaves buffer or border those of whites and blacks. Daily contact between whites and blacks is limited, except in employment settings where whites supervise blacks. Social clubs...

    (pp. 67-114)

    Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s aphorism that “a page of history is worth a volume of logic” ¹ has particular relevance to an examination of racial caste in the United States. American history provides a variety of reasons for repudiating tales of equality, myths about a color-blind tradition, and charges that remedial affirmative action is unfair. Many persons in the United States have convinced themselves that it has been the most just, equal nation in history, that all men are created equal, that everyone has the same opportunities to achieve success, and that those who fail are inferior. But if we...

    (pp. 115-176)

    Now that I have explained, using both personal and historical reasons, why remedial affirmative action is effective and justifiable and why color blindness will extend white privilege into the next century, I want to show why remedial affirmative action does not violate people’s constitutional rights. The Supreme Court has claimed on numerous occasions that the Constitution prohibits invidious racial discrimination, that is, policies intentionally designed to discriminate and enacted because of their discriminatory effects.

    The Court has distinguished between governmental policies that promote racial supremacy and those that rest on a remedial purpose, such as eliminating racial (or gender) caste....

    (pp. 177-184)

    Because my family still lives in Columbus, I visit several times a year. Family gatherings today are happy, festive times. Dee no longer works but spends much of her time visiting her family. She has nearly two dozen grandchildren and a half-dozen great-grandchildren. My siblings and I help support her financially. She still cooks regularly, but now at home for my brothers or sisters who would rather eat her cooking than their own.

    All my sisters and brothers have better lives today. They have small families and work in various occupations. Two work at the same hospital; one does cosmetology;...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 185-208)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 209-212)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-213)