ILRCB 1100 . Term Paper . Justifying Present Affirmative Action for Blacks (A)

ILRCB 1100 . Term Paper . Justifying Present Affirmative Action for Blacks (A)

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1 Justifying Present Affirmative Action for Blacks Yi Cai NetID: yc639 Cornell #: 2154373 November 19, 2008 Labor History – ILBCB 1100
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2 In his book When Affirmative Action Was White, Ira Katznelson, an Irish-American, argues that Affirmative Action is now necessary because government policies dealing with welfare, work, and war during the New Deal, and the decades that immediately followed, systematically excluded African Americans. In addition to an extended exegesis of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Commencement Address at Howard University, which was presented in the beginning of the book, Katznelson further juxtaposes the affects of each program on blacks and whites in order to show that Affirmative Action in the past was solely “white.” Katznelson’s use of the statistics and periodicals, as well as his reliance on court cases, letters from veterans, school records, and secondary sources, help develop his argument and ultimately justify that the failure of the government to provide opportunity in conjunction with freedom led to the ever-widening gap between blacks and whites on the basis of income and education. With supporting evidence from Lizabeth Cohen’s Making a New Deal , and John T. McGreevy’s Parish Boundaries , Katznelson’s argument is thus, exceptionally convincing. During Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, reforms were “crafted and administered in a deeply discriminatory manner” (Katznelson, 17). The majority of Democrats in the Senate and in the House were southerners, many with seniority and legislative influence. Their predecessors were successful in instituting Jim Crow Laws in the late 1800s which methodically ostracized blacks, while the New Deal Democrats looked to promulgate their legislative legacy of exclusion. They feared that any economic enhancement for blacks would threaten their region’s system of racial segregation; Katznelson explains that southern Democrats used three methods to exclude African Americans from receiving the benefits from programs such as the Social Security Act of 1935, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, and the Fair Labor Standards Act 1938. The southern Democrats fought for the inclusion of racially laden provisions and for the administration of benefits to be controlled at the local levels, where most
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3 state and local government officials were white and “hostile to black aspirations” (Katznelson, 23). Furthermore, in an effort to exclude blacks, Southern Democrats refused to permit anti- discrimination provisions in social welfare programs. In particular, the Democratic South focused on the labor market as the key platform of discrimination against blacks. Katznelson emphasizes that black workers were at a constant disadvantage because of the lack of specific non-discriminatory policies in federally funded, labor-related programs. Programs such as the Social Security Act excluded domestic and agricultural workers, thus denying benefits to 60 percent of blacks in the labor force nationwide,
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This note was uploaded on 01/16/2009 for the course ILRCB 1100 taught by Professor Danielc during the Fall '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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ILRCB 1100 . Term Paper . Justifying Present Affirmative Action for Blacks (A)

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