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Affirmative Action and Racism Marco MARTINIELLO The question I would like to raise is the following : can affirmative action be a remedy against racism ? This is a very difficult question since both affirmative action and racism have lead to highly emotional political and academic debates in which the initial stand point of the speakers often determines the possibility or the impossibility to engage in a discussion between opponents. Both racism and affirmative action are essentially contested issues. The literature on affirmative action is massive. Philosophers have written extensively on issues at the core of the affirmative action debates: are collective rights compatible with liberal democratic theory (Kymlicka 1995) ? Does affirmative action produce some form of reverse discrimination at the expenses of the so-called majority and its members (Dworkin 1986) ? Do justice and equality conflict (Ezorsky 1991) ? What type of distributive justice is fair ? Economists from various schools have discussed the economic impact of affirmative action programs not only on the national economy but also on the achievements of relevant questions members here economic advantage of of are target in groups. essence: who The takes affirmative action ? What is the cost-benefit balance of these programs ? As to legal perspectives, the constitutional debate has been intense as to whether or not affirmative action challenges the fundamental principle of equality, or non-discrimination, before the law. The role of the courts has also been studied with care, for example the role of the Supreme Court in the United States of America (Urofsky 1992; Calvès 1998). In political science, policy studies approaches have examined how affirmative action programs have been implemented in the field of public contracting, public employment and education. published Furthermore, by backgrounds affirmative scholars and essays from activists action. many in Political have various favour essays academic or and been against pamphlets represent a substantial part of the recent literature on affirmative action (Bergman 1996; Bolick 1996; etc.). This includes the rise of the so-called Black conservatives affirmative who strongly action or any oppose kind of race-based preferential policies (Carter 1991; Steele 1998; etc.) Four main features characterise the literature on affirmative action. Firstly, it is often difficult to distinguish between analytical and normative concerns. The passions of the political debate often permeates in academic publications. Secondly, the literature on affirmative action deals mainly with single national settings. Some valuable attempts to develop international comparative works do exist (Lee Bacchi 1996; Faundez 1994; Sowell 1990) but a truly international research further. Thirdly, education and attention, agenda while employment the ways should affirmative have in be which developed action received in widespread affirmative action affect or not the political process and substantial citizenship still need to be better understood. Fourthly, many studies refer more or less explicitly to a specific group, such as either women or racial minorities, and do not consider the other groups. This can lead to results which can not easily be generalised. The literature on racism is as massive with numberless theoretical and conceptual disputes some of which were referred to the first session of this conference. Is racism different from antisemitism and xenophobia ? Is it an ideology, a set of prejudices against the members of a racialised group, a set of forms of institutional and structural mechanisms of segregation and discrimination? Does is translate into forms of speech and acts of violence, etc. ? The points of contention remain numerous despite the incredible amount of energy spent by researchers to make sense of racism. Therefore, one can not be too ambitious when dealing with the question as to the remedial effect of affirmative on racism. My presentation is simply an introduction to the debate and it does not claim to present an clear-cut and overarching answer to the initial question. In any case, it is a good idea to start with a working definition of both affirmative action and racism in order at least to state clearly what I am talking about. What is affirmative action ? Affirmative action refers to a broad set of social policies aimed at reversing historical trends that have located position minority mainly in groups work, in a education disadvantaged and political institutions. Basically, affirmative action involves actively encouraging educational public institutions and and private political employers, institutions to grant a better access to members of groups who have suffered collective forms of exclusion and discrimination. If Affirmative action is always about a specific policy treatment for members of historically disadvantaged and discriminated against groups, it does not necessarily translates into rigid quotas allowed to minorities either in universities, public institutions or political elected assemblies. Most of the time, affirmative action has been about setting goals for a better inclusion of individual members of historically excluded groups as well as monitoring of the evolution of the situation. In the which United Sates, developed in affirmative the wake of action the programs Civil Rights Movement were initially an attempt to ensure a better de facto equality of opportunities for previously excluded ethnic and racial minorities citizens. De jure citizenship and equality for African-Americans did not put an end to daily racism, discriminations and negative prejudice suffered by African-Americans. Something more was to be done in order to reduce the gap between formal equality and continued inequality and exclusion. Affirmative action programs were therefore designed and implemented initially with a widespread support of the population. But since the Reagan years, recurrently affirmative under attack action in liberal has been California as well as in other states such as Texas and Florida just to mention a couple of examples. Opponents advance various arguments to call for a total end of affirmative action programs: they would have caused a culture of dependency among Blacks; they would have profited only those Blacks who have made it without them anyway; they would contradict the principle of equality of all American citizens and also the principle of individualism at the core of American culture, they would harm other minorities but also the white majority which would now suffer reverse discrimination, they would jeopardise social cohesion by favouring groups, etc. conflict between American ethnic Declared affirmative action programs or public discussions about such programs can be found only in the US but also in India, in South Africa, in Malaysia but also in the European Union in the case of gender equality policies (Stone, 1999). Undeclared affirmative action programs are also implemented in other countries in which the debate about preferential policies remains highly taboo. This is the case of France and Belgium. What is racism ? My intention here is not to replicate the first session of the conference. Still, it is useful to recall that the word racism can be associated with a variety of phenomena. Racism has several dimensions which have too be distinguished in order to think about possible answers to the initial question. But I agree with Wieviorka on the issue based of of a unity of racism (1991). Racism is an ideology the belief that humanity is divided into races, that is in biological and/or cultural groups which reproduce over the generations with the same characteristics. Some races are considered Racist to ideologies biological and be are superior based cultural on and the other inferior. belief inferiority of in the groups conceived colour as of different their on members the basis which is of the skin associated to natural and/or cultural deficiencies. Racism rests on a logic of hierarchisation and homogenisation. It leads to a logic of preservation of the purity of the superior race though the interdiction of mixed marriage, the separation of the races in social life or some times though the destruction of the race seen as danger to that purity. In my view racism is broader than antisemitism even though it rests on similar assertions and beliefs. Racism is also a set of prejudices which govern the individual's behaviour and thinking when he or she faces or belonging thinks to about another an race individual as his or allegedly hers. Just because he or she is supposed to belong to a race, a specific attitude or behaviour is expected from him of her: Arabs are violent, Blacks are childish and not intelligent, Jews are mean or whatever. Racial ideologies and prejudices acts such as hate speeches and can translate into violence directed individually or collectively at the members of the inferior and/or dangerous races. The latter can also suffer all sorts of direct discriminations in daily life in the labour market, in the welfare system; in the education system, in housing, becomes in the judicial institutional system, and or etc. Racism structural then when the state excludes certain racial groups from the benefit of what should be seen as collective goods or resources. This can lead to the formation of a racial political order such as the de jure apartheid regime in South Africa or the Jim Crow system in the US in which rights. members When political of different this is government the is races case in have and charge different when I a speak racist of a complete political racism. Is affirmative action a remedy to racism ? Let me know come back to my initial question : Is affirmative action a remedy to racism ? My first point is that affirmative action is worth discussing only when there is a formal equality of all individuals before the Law. In a situation of complete political racism, affirmative action is not on the agenda since the differential allocation of resources to different races and the corresponding inequality of life opportunities is legal or considered to be normal and unavoidable. Therefore, the idea that racial inequalities should be corrected does not make sense. Clearly, the destruction of the political prerequisite and for juridical a racial discussion on order the is a possible benefits of affirmative action. It is only when this has happened and when it is observed that de facto, and even institutional and structural forms of racism continue to produce unacceptable racial inequalities that affirmative action can be fruitfully envisaged. In the case of the US, debates on affirmative action were obviously impossible in the pre-civil rights period: formal racial equality is a necessary but not sufficient conditions to launch such a debate. The second point is that the direct impact of affirmative action on the racist ideology will most probably rarely be nil or negative. Racist ideologues only change adoption of their mind affirmative on racial action issues. programs The seen as unfair and detrimental measures for the dominant race can even exacerbate their ideology and their campaigning. These Racist ideologues have campaigned against affirmative action and this has probably stimulated law suites started by whites, not necessarily all openly racists, claiming that affirmative action is actually a form of reverse discrimination affecting mainly white middle-aged men. The effect of affirmative action on racial prejudice may be more complex. At first, affirmative action can probably reinforce racial prejudice. If Blacks for example need special programs to reach the university level or to find a job, is it not because they are really inferior and unable to make it on their own ? This line of reasoning can be shared by white liberals and conservatives alike as well as by some Blacks who reject because they believe the view the affirmative Affirmative mainstream action precisely Action reinforces society has of them as inferior and as deficient. Now in the longer term, affirmative action can also contribute to reduce the racial prejudices suffered by minority racial groups though the promotion a better mutual knowledge between individuals socially classified servant in different works servant, he or day she races. after can day When a with hopefully a white civil black civil slowly start to realise that the characteristics generally affected to blacks in American society do not actually correspond to the reality and that there is no racial difference in terms of intelligence and ability. By the same token, the good performance of an affirmative action baby in college can maybe have the same effect. As to the effect of affirmative action on hate speeches and racial violence, there is no evidence as far as I know of this type of backlash. The most crucial effect of affirmative action is on institutional and structural racial discriminations. In the case of the US, it seems to me that the representation of Blacks in civil service, political elected assemblies and in higher education institutions would not be as good (or as bad) as it is without affirmative action. The enlargement of the Black and Hispanic middle-class is also the result of affirmative action. In countries where institutional racism is rooted in a long history of problematic race relations, formal equality before the law and anti-discrimination laws and policies may not be enough for balancing out inequalities. As President Johnson thought, you can not expect two people in a race to have the same probability to win when one of the two has started to run long after the other. Something has to be made to make the race fairer. That is affirmative action. In Clinton's view, when affirmative action is done right, it is flexible it is fair and it works. The question is affirmative then action. how A to build general that answer type is of very difficult to give but 3 general principles have to be taken into direction. account in order to move in that Firstly, affirmative action should be thought of as temporary. When the reasons why it has been designed and implemented programmes disappear, should disappear affirmative as well. action This would impede to consider affirmative action as an unfair advantage granted to some racial minority groups. Secondly, it is worth examining the possibility to design affirmative action policies based on various criteria such as race, ethnicity, class and gender in order to target with more accuracy the groups more in need of specific policy treatment. Thirdly, affirmative action programs should be accompanied by clear information campaign directed at all majority groups in order to show them they are not victims of reverse discrimination processes. If these principles are taken into account, the fact that affirmative ideologies and action racial can also prejudice reinforce is not racist a major obstacle to their implementation since they remain a major weapon institutional to fight against discriminations structural based on and race. Affirmative action remains a interesting way to try to secure equal opportunities to each regardless of her or his racial background. References individual BERGMANN B. (1996), In Defense of Affirmative Action, New York : Basic Books. BOLICK C. (1996), The Affirmative Action Fraud, Washington, Cato Institute. CALVÈS G. (1998), L'Affirmative Action dans la jurisprudence de la Cour Suprême des États-Unis. Le problème de la discrimination "positive", Paris : Librairie générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence (L.G.D.J.). CARTER S. (1991), Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, New York : Basic Books. DWORKIN R. (1986), A Matter of Principle, Oxford : Clarendon Press. EZORSKY G. (1991), Racism and Justice. The Case for Affirmative Action, Ithaca : Cornell University Press. FAUNDEZ J. (1994), Affirmative Action. International Perpsective, Geneva : International Labour Office. KYMLICKA W. (1995), Multicultural Citizenship, Oxford : Clarendon Press. LEE BACCHI C. (1996), The Politics of Affirmative Action. 'Women', Equality and Category Politics, London : Sage. MARTINIELLO M. et JUDT T. (Eds.) (1999), The Politics of Affirmative Action and the Development of a Multicultural Citizenship : Euro-US Perspectives, New York : Remarque Institute at New York University, Working Paper n°1. SKERRY P. (1999), “The Affirmative Action Paradox : Group Rights and Individual Benefits”, in MARTINIELLO M. et JUDT T. (Eds.), The Politics of Affirmative Action and the Development of a Multicultural Citizenship : Euro-US Perspectives, New York : Remarque Institute at New York University, Working Paper n°1, pp.1-17. SOWELL T. (1990), Preferential Policies. An International Perspective, New York : William Morrow. STEELE S. (1999), A Dream Defferred. The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America, New York : Harper and Collins. STONE J. (1999), Affirmative Action in a Global Context, in MARTINIELLO M. et JUDT T. (Eds.), The Politics of Affirmative Action and the Development of a Multicultural Citizenship : Euro-US Perspectives, New York : Remarque Institute at New York University, Working Paper n°1, pp.1-15. UROFSKY M. (1991), A Conflict of Rights. The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action, New York, Scribner's sons. WIEVIORKA M. (1991), L'espace du racisme, Paris, Le Seuil.