By Richard D. Kahlenberg
In this provocative and paradigm-shifting book, Richard D. Kahlenberg argues that affirmative action programs ought to be based not on race but on class. America's exclusive focus on race in determining how to allocate economic and educational opportunities has served only to undermine the moral legitimacy of affirmative action, the results clearly visible in the growing public sentiment to abolish such programs. Kahlenberg shows that it is time to return to affirmative action's roots, so that it works to the benefit of the truly disadvantaged, regardless of race. In a sweeping and damning analysis, Kahlenberg examines how the rationale for affirmative action has moved inexorably away from its original commitment to remedy past discrimination and instead has become a means to achieve racial diversity, even if that means giving preference to upper-middle-class blacks over poor whites. He outlines how a class-based system of affirmative action would work, why all Americans should embrace it, and how the African-American community in particular would continue to reap the benefits it needs without engendering resentment among whites.