Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

The Age of Inequity

Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

The Age of Inequity

Article excerpt

Just over 100 years ago, the United States Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, upheld segregated seating on railway cars and established the separate-but-equal doctrine that would continue to divide the nation for the next half century. From today's perspective, it's hard to imagine how such a doctrine could survive as long as it did.

And yet when I grew up in the South in the 1950s, restrooms and water fountains for whites only were part of the landscape, and I'm not sure I ever gave it a thought. When you're not on the receiving end, discrimination can become all but invisible. And even when you are the target, if discrimination is institutionalized into the culture, it can be deceptively hard to spot, especially in its subtler garb.

Despite the enormous progress that has been made during the past 30 years, the United States is still a divided nation. How can it even be an issue today that Joe Lieberman is a Jew? Why do we still need to talk about affirmative action? And why hasn't a woman stepped forward as a serious candidate for president? Hasn't Margaret Thatcher already proved the capability of women as political leaders? For that matter, didn't Elizabeth I prove it four centuries ago? …

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