Debating Affirmative Action

Nicolaus Mills, Editor
Nicolaus Mills, Editor Delta $12.95 (317p) ISBN 978-0-385-31221-9
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Representing various perspectives on affirmative action, this stimulating anthology collects 28 articles from such publications as the New Republic , the American Prospect and various newspapers and academic journals. Mills, professor of American studies at Sarah Lawrence, contributes a thoughtful historical introduction and suggests, as does William Julius Wilson, that ``race-neutral'' social programs and an improved economy might stem the growing polarization between races. Among those offering overviews are Shelby Steele, who argues for ``development and antidiscrimination, rather than entitlement,'' and Alice Kessler-Harris, whose original essay on ``Feminism and Affirmative Action'' points out that preferential treatment for such a large group as women, makes them vulnerable to angry backlash. Sections on affirmative action in the job market, featuring Cornel West and Clarence Thomas, and on campus, including Dinesh D'Souza and Andrew Hacker, could be more comprehensive. Better is a section of personal essays, in which Patricia Williams recounts her own struggles against discrimination on the street and in law reviews, and the pseudonymous G. Kindrow describes the frustrations of an affirmative action search at a large Midwestern university. Also strong is the final section, which looks to a future in which Drew Days endorses ``enlarging the pie'' and Viet D. Dinh warns of the fine line ``between racial entitlement and racial exclusion.'' (Apr.)
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