(via The Root | Sophia A. Nelson) - Last Sunday, veteran Washington Post journalist Juan Williams and conservative author Shelby Steele wrote two opposing op-eds on the pending death of affirmative action. Williams opined that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was too optimistic when she predicted that affirmative action, born with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had at most 25 more years to live. And Steele argued that persistent racial inequality today between whites and African Americans is primarily a result of black underdevelopment rather than racism. I think they both missed the mark.
For all of Pat Buchanan’s angry bluster and “white men built this country” rhetoric, he too misses the glaring but often unspoken truth about affirmative action: that white American women have been the biggest beneficiaries of so-called minority preferences.
All economic indicators, higher education admissions’ practices, and corporate and law firm figures show that when it comes to leveling the playing field in the past 30 years, white women—not black men, black women or other persons of color—have gained the most ground.
Political theater plays best when you can stoke racial fears and use the images of “unqualified blacks and browns” admitted to schools through flawed affirmative action policies taking the “rightful” position of “better” qualified white students or professionals.
But the stark facts, according to a CNN Black in America 2 report, suggest that white women are the least negatively impacted by the struggling U.S. economy. The unemployment rate for white women is just 6.7 percent, compared with 9.1 percent—just below the national average—for white men, 11.1 percent for black and Latina women and 20 percent for black men.