The contemporary debate about race in the United States is perplexing. Each side seems genuinely to feel distressed at the demands being made by the other. Racial minorities point to Dred Scott's insistence on racial castes, Plessy's endorsement of official segregation, and Brown's reluctance to remedy unlawful discrimination as evidence that the white majority is inevitably inclined to advance its own interests at minority expense. Minority group members, therefore, tend to argue that the only way to arrest this majoritarian inclination is through the use of race-conscious remedial programs that will ensure an equitable distribution of resources. Most members of the white majority concede past transgressions but warn of the need for fairness in fashioning remedies, asserting that members of the present majority rarely commit acts of overt discrimination, and that members of the present minority are rarely among the actual victims of past discrimination. Members of the white majority, therefore, tend to argue that the only way to end racial discrimination is through a prospective commitment to race neutrality, stressing the irony inherent in using additional acts of racial discrimination to remedy the racial discrimination of the past. Accordingly, the nation's debate about the significance of race, which began with slavery and persisted through the era of official segregation, has now converged on the contentious issue of affirmative action. Most recently, the Supreme Court has sided against racial minorities.
39 Howard L.J. 1 (1995-1996)
Scholarly Commons Citation
Spann, Girardeau A., "Affirmative Action and Discrimination" (1999). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 1929.