‘Wrestling with Diversity’While the Supreme Court and lower courts debated the issue of affirmative action in higher education, many in the academic community took to writing their own arguments. Here are a few of the newest scholarly books that speak to the issue of race and college admissions, as well as one publication that takes a look at the role of race in the elementary school setting, well before students find their way to a college campus.The Assault on Diversity: An Organized Challenge to Racial and Gender Justice
Lee Cokorinos (with foreword by Hon. Harold R. Tyler Jr. and introduction by Theodore M. Shaw)
Rowman & Littlefield
June 2003, 208 pp.,
$26.95 cloth, $65.00 paper
ISBN: 0-7425-2476-0 paper,
ISBN: 0-7425-2475-2 cloth.Organized anti-affirmative groups have been working tirelessly to change public and private opinions of affirmative action reform. The Assault on Diversity addresses this opposition, which some consider the most audacious and sustained attempt to turn back the clock on social justice in American history. The book contains detailed profiles of the network of conservative foundations, think tanks, legal advocacy groups and coordinating structures currently working together to undermine the historic gains of the civil rights movement. The author documents their organized attack on affirmative action and includes an assessment of how the current administration’s opposition to racial “quotas” has improved their prospects.
Lee Cokorinos is research director at the Institute for Democracy Studies in New York.Race in the Schoolyard: Negotiating the Color Line in Classrooms and Communities
Amanda E. Lewis
Rutgers University Press, May 2003, 288 pp., $22.00 paper, ISBN 0-8135-3225-6; $60.00 cloth, ISBN 0-8135-3224-8Race in the Schoolyard captures the reality of race as a product of schooling, by revealing the lessons about race that are communicated in our children’s classroom. The book shows that the curriculum, both expressed and hidden, teaches many racial lessons, and that schools and their personnel serve as a means of both affirming and challenging previous racial attitudes and understanding. The author argues that race is not a fixed characteristic of individuals that they bring to school with them and then take away unchanged and intact. Something happens in the classroom that forms and changes people in racial terms.
Dr. Amanda E. Lewis is an assistant professor of sociology and African American studies and a fellow at the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.Affirmative Action and Racial Preference: A Debate
Carl Cohen and James P. Sterba
Oxford University Press, August 2003, 352 pp., $28.00
ISBN: 0-19-514894-0In a lively debate, two contemporary philosophers lay out the arguments on each side of the contentious issue of racial preferences. Carl Cohen, a key figure in the University of Michigan Supreme Court cases, argues that racial preferences are morally wrong — forbidden by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, and explicitly banned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. James P. Sterba counters that, far from being banned by the Constitution and the civil rights acts, affirmative action is actually mandated by law in the pursuit of a society that is racially and sexually just. The debate explores the philosophical and legal arguments on all sides of affirmative action, but also reveals the passions that drive the issue to the forefront of public life.
Dr. Carl Cohen is professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan. Dr. James P. Sterba is professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.Wrestling With Diversity
Duke University Press, November 2003, 336 pp., $21.95 paper, ISBN 0-8223-3239-6 (paper), $74.95 cloth,
ISBN 0-8223-3226-4 (cloth)
In the essays collected here, Sanford Levinson, a leading scholar of constitutional law and American government, wrestles with various notions of diversity. He begins by explaining why he finds the concept to be almost useless as a genuine guide to public policy. Discussing affirmative action in university admissions, including the University of Michigan Law School case, he argues both that there may be good reasons to use preferences — including race and ethnicity — and that these reasons have relatively little to do with any cogently developed theory of diversity.
Dr. Sanford Levinson is W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood Jr. Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law.
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