Essay on Katznelson

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Critical Reading Review

In his book, “When affirmative action was white,” Ira Katznelson focuses on political events that took place between 1930th and 1960th and how they shaped today’s racial inequality. The civil rights movement had prompted issuance of different social welfare programs such as New Deal and Fair Deal that were aimed at improvement of economic situation in the poor regions of the US. The southern states had mostly rural economy at that time and vast majority of African Americans were concentrated there. These social programs were issued by Federal government but executed by the southern officials who altered their terms to benefit mostly white population. For example, they excluded rural workers (majority of whom were African Americans) from the programs – the ones who needed help most. The author concludes: “Barred from the social political system by a wide array of exclusionary rules and practices, they could not secure effectual political presence either at home or in Washington. Without black political participation, southern representatives…were utterly free not just to impede but veto the full and fair participation of African Americans in the most important welfare-oriented advances of the 1930th.” (Katznelson, 51) Thus those programs only increased racial inequality.

Katznelson emphasizes his attention on the fact that during the World War II both white and black people equally participated in newly created industries in America and contributed equal share in production of goods. Many jobs were created for all and this meant to improve overall economy of the country. These circumstances also meant to narrow racial inequality gap but exactly the opposite happened. Katznelson examines the reasons why African Americans were left out again. One of the reasons was the absence of citizenship rights among African Americans and the other – discrimination in educational, housing, and working spheres. One of the ways to eliminate...
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