In a climate where whites who criticize affirmative action risk being termed racist and blacks who do the same risk charges of treason and self hatred, a frank and open discussion of racial preference is difficult to achieve. But, in the first book on racial preference written from personal experience, Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, Stephen L. Carter, Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University and self-described beneficiary (and, at times, victim) of affirmative action, does it. Using his own story of success and frustration as “an affirmative action baby” as a point of departure, Carter, who has risen to the top of his profession, provides an incisive analysis of one of the most incendiary topics of our day—as well as an honest critique of the pressures on black professionals and intellectuals to conform to the “politically correct” acheter viagra way of being black. Affirmative action as it is practiced today not only does little to promote racial equality, Carter argues, but also allows the nation to escape rather cheaply from its moral obligation to undo the legacy of slavery. Affirmative action, particularly in hiring often reinforces racist stereotypes by promoting the idea that the black professional cannot aspire to anything more than being “the best black.” Has the time come to abandon these programs? No--but affirmative action must return to its simpler roots, Carter argues: to provide educational opportunities for those who might not otherwise have them. Then the beneficiaries should demand to be held to the same standards as anyone else.
Behind the Book
My first book. Some of my commentary was probably written in too much heat, but the stereotyping of black America, from both ends of the political spectrum, continues to irritate me. We do not make progress toward any significant end by pretending that there is some official way to be black.
“Powerfully written and persuasive.” - David J. Garrow New York Times Book Review
“Trenchant as a legal brief, compelling as the best fiction.” - Newsweek