Affirmative action is an issue that has been hotly contended in America since the days of the Reagan administration. An issue that is sensitive and uncomfortable to many Americans because of how intimately it deals with race, poverty and inequality. This essay will use Ira Katznelson’s book When Affirmative Action Was White as a vehicle to closely examine affirmative action and several different perspectives will be offered. Katznelson’s point will be summarized and the views of Ronald Reagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Barack Obama and myself will be presented. First, I will make my case for why I feel Katznelson made a strong argument for affirmative action. Then I will present my perceived responses of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Sonia Sotomayor to Katznelson’s argument as well as their views on the issue. Lastly I will share my own response to the book as well as my personal views on affirmative action. Ira Katznelson makes a very compelling case for affirmative action in When Affirmative Action Was White. I his closing statements Katznelson calls for affirmative action to be extended so that it ends in one generation, so that we can we can move toward a “fully-integrated, color-blind society” (p 172). Katznelson argues that we need affirmative now because so many past policies were advantageous to White Americans. With slavery, Jim Crow laws and discrimination African Americans have been kept out of academia for much of our countries history. African Americans weren’t even allowed to vote until the ratification of the 15th amendment in 1870. And even then Jim Crow laws, unfair testing, and intimidation kept them from the voting booths. Katznelson’s position is that affirmative action has been “White” for most of this country’s past. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which created many social and government programs during the Great Depression, helped many Americans, most of them White. “Affirmative action was then White. New national
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