A blurred case: The diversity defense for affirmative action in the U.S.
Copyright © Hutchins Center for African and African American Research 2020. Much of the pivotal debate concerning the validity of affirmative action is situated in a legal context of defending or challenging claims that there may be broad societal gains from increased diversity. Race-conscious affirmative action policies originally advanced legal sanctions to promote racial equity in the United States. Today, increasingly detached from its historical context, defense or rejection of affirmative action is otherwise upheld to achieve diversity. A diversity rationale for affirmative action calls for increasing tolerance of the other, reducing negative stereotypes, and moderating prejudice as goals-all objectives that deviate from the former aim of race-targeted inclusion intended to resolve racial discrimination in employment and college admissions. Diversity policy provides a tapered defense for affirmative action, one detached from principles of justice and equity. The current article suggests that, despite the fact that the ostensible benefits of racial inclusion as diversity may be the remaining legal prop for affirmative action in the U.S., there is a need to consider whether diversity intrinsically can engender the benefits that affirmative action policy seeks to provide.
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