More White Affirmative Action

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported the following:

The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

The Justice Department wouldn’t provide any details about the new initiative, but there’s reason to be concerned. As The Times stated, both supporters and critics of this plan believe it’s clearly aimed at admissions office practices designed to increase racial diversity on campuses.

We’ve fielded so many questions about affirmative action over the years during our post-screening discussions – often from young people who truly believe that affirmative action, at best, is simply no longer necessary and, at worst, discriminates against white people.

Look at “white affirmative action” policies, like the ones that got Jared Kushner into Harvard.
There’s so much evidence to the contrary. But we get why this issue is confusing. For most of us, when we hear “affirmative action,” we think about helping underrepresented groups, like women and people of color. But if we continue to frame it that way, then we ignore all the laws, policies, and practices that have been helping white people since this country’s founding – from Slave Codes to Redlining and beyond.

So if the Trump administration really wants to take on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions,” they need to take a look at “white affirmative action” policies, like the ones that got Jared Kushner into Harvard.

If you’re curious about “white affirmative action,” check out some of these resources and let us know what you think or if we’ve left anything out:

  1. Race – The Power of An Illusion: Excellent three-part documentary series that aired on PBS. If nothing else, at least watch the third episode for a better understanding of recent American history.
  2. A Long History of Affirmative Action – For Whites: Relatively brief article, written as supplemental material to the above documentary series.
  3. One of the best ways we’ve had this explained to us is by The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond in their Undoing Racism workshop where they drop a serious American history lesson on “white affirmative action.” Learn more about this incredible group of organizers here.
  4. When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth Century America, by Ira Katznelson: This book shows how New Deal programs were intentionally racist.
Catherine Wigginton Greene
Written by
Catherine Wigginton Greene
Executive Director of Content and Engagement
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