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Some people argue that if we stopped "seeing" race, the problems of racism will go away. Opponents of affirmative action equate race-based policies with "reverse discrimination" and assert that the victories of the Civil Rights era have provided Americans with a level-playing field, while others claim we still need race in order to address inequality. As the Supreme Court decides whether affirmative action programs in universities should be allowed to continue, Americans must decide, what kind of society are we ready for?
Click on a question below to see how our panel of experts responded:


Opening Question:
Are we ready for a "colorblind" society?

Q: What is the difference between race and ethnicity?

Q: If race is an illusion, what does this mean to all of us who are struggling against racism and social policies that reinforce race-based inequality? How can people embrace this view without denying the very painful and real history and experience that has been the product of this illusion of race? How will a society where race is non-existent or undefinable ensure equality for minorities?

Q: In the program, you show how race has been used historically to discriminate against minorities. When is it okay to talk about race or use race? Isn't it just as wrong to base policies and laws on race today as it was 50 or even 100 years ago? How can you say that one use of race is "good" and another is "bad" - isn't it subjective and isn't that just being politically correct?

Q: There are people who are in their late teens who have never owned slaves and would like to be judged as individuals for college admissions. Do two wrongs now make a right? Is racial discrimination (through affirmative action) the way we should redress wrongs committed by others in the past? Aren't we engaging in discriminatory practices by furthering the interest of X group at the expense of Y group?

Q: What concrete actions can an individual take to stop institutional racism? How do we perpetuate racial inequalities or bias without realizing it?

Q: How do you enlist the support of white people in achieving racial equality when it may mean they will lose some of their privileges? What are the effects of inequality and oppression on those who are not victims of it? What are the consequences for everyone if things don't change?

Q: Should we modify affirmative action policies to be based on socioeconomic status as opposed to being based on race? Wouldn't this get at the heart of the lack of opportunities of the problem that affirmative action is trying to solve?

Q: I am a person who supports affirmative action and recognizes institutional racism. Will there ever be a time when we will not have to depend on social programs for racial equality? How will we know when that time has arrived? In other words, at what point is the debt of "white privilege" paid? Under the criteria for this debt, doesn't any difference in income or wealth among any racial or ethnic group require some sort of recompense?

Q: In a segment of the program it was argued that the net worth difference between whites and non-whites does not allow them to prosper but many immigrants come to the U.S. with negative net worth. Now they earn above-average incomes and own houses in "white suburbs." What accounts for the relative affluence of immigrants compared to African Americans, for example?

Q: What policies might integrate the suburbs and remedy some of the inequities that stem from residental segregation?

Q: Don't people's values and cultural beliefs play a huge role in determining their chances for success? Giving people opportunities doesn't make up for poor parenting and a lack of family values. It's hard to deny that there are huge differences in the beliefs and accomplishments of each racial group.

Q: Are reparations for slavery appropriate?

 


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