Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education published an article by Richard Kahlenberg, “What Sotomayor Gets Wrong About Affirmative Action.” Rather than add to the debate it rehearses again the tired assertion that the focus should be on class and not race. This, not surprisingly, evacuates race from the discussion and leaves in place the belief that affirmative action was only a benefit—if not a give-away—to Blacks and, more recently, Latinos.
First, the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action up to Bakke (1978) were white women. And prior to Bakke, “affirmative action” ensured that higher education remained white and male; a fact not lost to Sotomayor in her striking Schuttee dissent.
Second, as for the elephant in the room, the country does not need white racism to control the new Latino majority or Blacks as much as it needs white racism to control poor and uneducated whites who understand their disenfranchisement to be lock-step with perceived Black and Latino educational and economic gains.
Finally, the article misreads the Georgetown study and that’s a pity but understandable given its purpose.