Policy Feedback and the Racialization of Affirmative Action, 1961-1980
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Since the 1960s, U.S. lawmakers have used affirmative action policies to promote equal opportunity. Although these policies have played an important role in redressing historical discrimination by helping women, racial and ethnic minorities, citizens with disabilities, and veterans to make progress in employment and education, their effects for racial equity in higher educational access have come to dominate popular perceptions of affirmative action and drive the often contentious political discourse surrounding it. How did popular understandings of affirmative action policy become so racialized, and what are the implications of this racialization for its capacity to redress past wrongs? This paper examines the early political development of affirmative action policy in the U.S. from its emergence in 1961 through 1980. Historical analysis suggests that the contentious race-centered politics of affirmative action that emerged after the landmark Regents v. Bakke case is a matter of policy feedback effects.
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