The Public Interest

Inventing race

John D. Skrentny

Winter 2002

OUR seemingly endless debate about the justice of affirmative action has kept a related and increasingly important issue off the national agenda: If we are to have affirmative action, which groups should be included?  Americans almost always debate affirmative action as if African Americans were the only beneficiary. The logic behind this assumption has been that this group has experienced uniquely severe oppression and disadvantage, and was the original intended beneficiary of affirmative action and of the civil rights laws introduced in the 1960s.

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