chapter  12
26 Pages

Beyond Affirmative Action Toward a Resolution of Our Divisions

Central to almost all of the vicious circles discussed in this book is an either-or way of thinking that impedes the resolution of conflicting perspectives and perpetuates alienation and division. The debate over affirmative action is an example par excellence of this narrowly adversarial mode of discourse. Affirmative action policies, designed to help us address the inequalities in environment and preparation that make competition for jobs and college admissions skewed and factitious, have in certain ways ended up contributing to the forces that maintain those inequalities. Both the substantive assumptions of some affirmative action proponents and the reactions evoked in the general public by the sometimes problematic arguments of both supporters and opponents have contributed to diminishing support for needed programs to combat the very inequalities that have made affirmative action necessary.