‘Race’, Difference and the Inclusive Society. Anti-discrimination law, affirmative action and the pursuit of equal opportunities II – the US Peter Ratcliffe. Lecture outline. US approaches to combating discrimination Introduction of Affirmative Action
Anti-discrimination law, affirmative action and the pursuit of equal opportunities II – the US
India and the US took rather more ‘radical’ measures than the UK, but US only did so because the more liberal policy variant had failed.
1940s – US relied on legal banning of discrimination in areas such as employment and housing.
These strategies failed so first Kennedy and then LBJ, in 1961 and 1965 respectively, turned to the more radical idea of ‘affirmative action’
Affirmative action - simply removing existing impediments is not sufficient for changing the relative positions of women and ‘people of color’….
Affirmative action derives from structural deficit - lack of a ‘level playing field’. But enforcement, as in Britain, was a major weakness
First Nixon administration even encouraged local governments to ‘set aside’ a number of contracts for minority contractors. Nixon (im)famously embraced notion of Black Power, by which he meant Black capitalism! [Parallel response in UK?]
First involved a Californian called Allan Bakke.
Bakke applied to university medical schools as a mature student. Rejected by the University of California at Davis in 1973, and again in 1974.
Californian Supreme Court (September 1976) decided in favour of Bakke, and ordered UCD to admit him, but college was permitted to retain its admissions policy, pending a review by the US Supreme Court.
Weber from Kaiser Aluminum claimed that the company’s AA policy to increase the number of minority employees violated Title VII.
Why and how was policy introduced?
Weber applied for a special training program but was turned down on the grounds that he didn’t have sufficient seniority. But, he argued that he had more than a few of the Blacks who were accepted. So:
Implications - important victory for minorities (especially Blacks) and women. Otherwise, would have dealt well nigh fatal blow to AA
Election of Ronald Reagan, and then George Bush Sr., signaled concerted opposition to AA (Thatcher/UK?)
Substance of the attacks?
‘Helped wrong people, harmed prospects of poor whites whilst not affecting already privileged’ (?)
In many ways stems from the first claim….
NB: Those benefiting from AA often undermined psychologically (e.g. UCLA case)
Broader set of problems here………….
Herring and Collins argue:
‘innocent white men who have never discriminated against minorities or women might be punished unfairly while some chauvinists and bigots might be spared. This objection to affirmative action makes the judgment (as an empirical fact) that whites lose to minorities. This empirical fact, per se, should disallow affirmative action according to these critics.’
Differences essentially between the ‘liberal’ approach which focuses on means and the ‘radical’ model which concentrates efforts on ends (cf. last week)
In the quest for a more inclusive society, can be arguments for both (more next week).
For now: I’ll confine my comments to a brief comparison of the US and UK models.
2. Class Actions. In the US (cf. Weber - ironically used against AA!), can be used to strengthen case
3. US system effectively permits ‘positive discrimination’, the British model permits only ‘positive action’.
4. Contract Compliance - never been sanctioned in British law [In contrast with US]
5. Intersecting arenas of exclusion. US affirmative action program targets minorities and women. In Britain, prior to November 2007, separate bodies were charged with these matters. Now?
As to the ‘race’/gender issue - now a generic equalities agenda in Britain. Rational approach - but problems? Here, note just two.
Also, current Coalition government appears intent on mounting widespread assault on both the equalities and human rights agendas