wise and unnecessary to eliminate affirmative action programs in order to strengthen the psychological well-being of successful black employees.
Criticisms of affirmative action do not come only from conservatives. Some liberal and Marxist critics have argued that race-specific policies such as affirmative action are undesirable because they tend to prevent the formation of multiracial political coalitions. What is needed, they argue, are universalistic policies that benefit everybody. Calls for a national public works program to provide more jobs for everyone, for example, would be preferable to demanding that blacks get preference for the few existing jobs.
What is really needed, in my judgment, is a combination of universalistic programs and affirmative action. Universalistic policies alone would still leave minorities at a disadvantage relative to whites. On the other hand, white support for affirmative action would send a signal to minorities that whites are genuinely interested in racial equality. This, in turn, would encourage minorities to join multiracial coalitions to fight for universalistic programs.
As long as race continues to be a dominant factor in American life, affirmative action will be a necessary tool in the struggle for racial equality.
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