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The Coming Race War: And Other Apocalyptic Tales of America after Affirmative Action and Welfare

Richard Delgado
With an Introduction by Andrew Hacker
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    The Coming Race War
    Book Description:

    In The Washington Post, Julius Lester praised Richard Delgado's The Rodrigo Chronicles: Conversations about America and Race as free of cant and ideology. . . . an excellent starting place for the national discussion about race we so desperately need. The New York Times has hailed Delgado as a pioneer in the study of race and law, and the Los Angeles Times has compared his storytelling style to Plato's Dialogues. In The Coming Race War?, Delgado turns his attention to the American racial landscape in the wake of the mid-term elections in 1994. Our political and racial topography has been radically altered. Affirmative action is being rolled back, immigrants continue to be targeted as the source of economic woes, and race is increasingly downplayed as a source of the nation's problems. Legal obstacles to racial equality have long been removed, we are told, so what's the problem? And yet, the plight of the urban poor grows worse. The number of young black men in prison continues to exceed those in college. Informal racial privilege remains entrenched and systemic. Where, asks Delgado in this new volume, will this lead? Enlisting his fictional counterpart, Rodrigo Crenshaw, to untangle the complexities of America's racial future, Delgado explores merit and affirmative action; the nature of empathy and, more commonly, false empathy; and the limitations of legal change. Warning of the dangers of depriving the underprivileged of all hope and opportunity, Delgado gives us a dark future in which an indignant white America casts aside, once and for all, the spirit of the civil rights movement, with disastrous results.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4428-4
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    Andrew Hacker

    Even in his lineage, Rodrigo is telling us a story. His father is of African descent and his mother is Italian. Outside of the United States, he would be known and recognized as an individual of mixed parentage. Latin Americans might call him “mulatto” or “creole,” depending on his features and hue. In South Africa, he would be designated as “colored,” a group given an identity distinct and separate from the nation’s two major races.

    The United States, however, remains the only country with no intermediate categories. Where the principal races are concerned, you are either black or white. This...

  5. Introduction: In Which the Author Explains Who Rodrigo and the Professor Are, and What They Have Been Doing So Far
    (pp. 1-3)

    InThe Rodrigo Chronicles,published in 1995, the reader meets my brash, talented young friend and graduate lawyer, Rodrigo. When we first encounter him, Rodrigo has flown back to the States from Italy, at his sister’s suggestion, to meet “the Professor” and discuss the young man’s future. Rodrigo is thinking of obtaining an LL.M. (advanced law) degree from an American institution in hopes of a career as a law teacher. The son of an African-American serviceman and half-brother of famed U.S. civil rights scholar and activist Geneva Crenshaw, Rodrigo had grown up in Italy where his father had been assigned...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Empathy and False Empathy: The Problem with Liberalism
    (pp. 4-36)

    I was sitting in my darkened office one afternoon, thinking about life. To tell the truth, I was missing my young friend and protégé, Rodrigo. Not long ago, I had consigned him to the Great Beyond. But now, I was flooded with regret and sadness. I missed his brashness, his insouciant originality. Odd, I had not thought of myself as sentimental. How could I have allowed him to succumb to the critique of narrativity in “Rodrigo’s Final Chronicle?”¹ Now a young law professor at a well-known university in the Midwest, Rodrigo had sought me out for career advice, nearly three...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Legal Instrumentalism and the Rule of Law: A Blueprint for Reformers in Hard Times
    (pp. 37-61)

    I was sitting dejectedly in the airport waiting lounge, cursing myself for having taken a winter flight that changed planes in a northern city, when I heard a familiar voice from behind me.

    “Professor, is it you?”

    I turned. “Rodrigo, for goodness’ sake! What are you doing here?”

    “I’m just getting back from a speaking tour. I think I told you I’m workshopping my first article. I gave three talks in six days!”

    “You must be exhausted,” I commiserated.

    “Oh, it wasn’t so bad,” my irrepressible protege replied, “although it went by in something of a blur. I’m afraid I’ll...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Merit and Affirmative Action
    (pp. 62-98)

    I had just put down my papers from the talk that, as one of three graybeards, I had just given to a roomful of eager new professors when a familiar face materialized in front of me.

    “Rodrigo! I didn’t see you in the room. Where were you sitting?”

    “Over there,” my young friend and protege replied, “behind Henry Abercrombie. He’s a giant—I’m not surprised you didn’t see me. That was a great talk.”

    “Thanks,” I said. “They called me up at the last minute. I didn’t have much time to prepare. Have you been here for the entire conference?”...

  9. CHAPTER 4 American Apocalypse
    (pp. 99-129)

    Hee-hee, I caught myself muttering under my breath with a childish excitement unbefitting someone my age, as I walked up the last few stairs to Rodrigo’s fourth floor office. In the past, my youngenfant terriblehad made a practice of dropping in on me unexpectedly, materializing as though out of nowhere. Now, courtesy of a board meeting of a public interest organization I had agreed recently to serve, I found myself in Rodrigo’s city. With a little time on my hands, I had caught a cab to his law school to see how he was doing. And here I...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Cosmopolitanism and Identity Politics
    (pp. 130-147)

    “Good timing,” I commented to Rodrigo as we waited to hail a cab in front of the airport. “I’m glad we managed to coordinate our arrivals.”

    “Me, too,” said my young friend. “How was your flight?”

    “Fine. And yours?”

    “I barely made it. Laz had to drive me to the airport. We were talking, and I lost track of the time.”

    “That was quite a conversation we had last time,” I said. “Despite his cheerful demeanor, Laz knows how to spin a dark tale.”¹

    “That he does,” Rodrigo agreed. “And the disturbances that broke out in California, and the referenda...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Citizenship: How Society Rejects the Very Persons It Most Needs
    (pp. 148-165)

    “Professor! What are you doing?”

    I looked up from my labors to find Rodrigo, to my great pleasure, standing in my doorway. He was looking concerned.

    “Come on in. It’s good to see you. Thanks for the card saying you were coming. I called, but your secretary said you’d already left.”

    “What are all these boxes?”

    “I’m packing up. It’s time for me to move on to other things. I was going to write and let you know.”

    “So the rumors I’ve heard about your retiring are true, then?” Rodrigo asked, worry written all over his face. “You're our rock...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 166-168)

    So far as Rodrigo or any of the professor’s other friends and acquaintances could tell, he completed his packing and left the next day. Out of curiosity, Rodrigo telephoned the citizenship review panel, but they declined to speak with him because of the confidentiality of the proceedings and his lack of an explicit letter of retainer or appointment as guardian ad litem. Rodrigo did not self-deconstruct, as he had declared heatedly and emotionally he might in the professor’s office. Instead, he and Giannina vowed to undertake a program of joint scholarship aimed at continuing the professor’s tradition and memory. Several...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 169-198)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 199-201)