Seminar 13 Outline – Nov 16, 2021

Race Together: Learnings about and Race and Racism in America

Arturo Pierre Lewis

America Today: Race, Class and Affirmative Action

A Conversation with Jami Floyd-Senior Editor for Race & Justice Unit at New York Public Radio and the Legal Editor in the WNYC Newsroom.

Chapter 16-Current Debates: Affirmative Action, Immigration, and 

Race verses Class

Chapter Objectives—after reading Chapter Sixteen you should be able to:

  • Describe affirmative action and the debate surrounding this policy
  • Discuss the legal implications of affirmative action and alternatives to this policy
  • Describe William Julius Wilson’s argument about the declining significance of race when describing social issues in urban inner city neighborhoods
  • Discuss immigration policy and current controversies about both legal and illegal immigration to the United States 

Affirmative Action

Any deliberate effort to increase minority representation, such as the work force or student body. Affirmative Action may be limited to more vigorous efforts to recruit minorities or may be extended to preferences in hiring or student admissions. This sometimes includes the use of specific goals and timetables for minority representation such as Quotas and Minority Set Aside Programs.


Migration of one group into an area controlled by another group.

Race versus Class

Is racial discrimination a greater social problem than class discrimination?

Does having more personal capital lead to tolerance and or inclusion?

Job insecurity, competition and a lack of personal wealth growth impedes racial and class progress. How come?

Why is America comfortable with tolerance and diversity instead of acceptance, equality, equity and full inclusion?

Discussion Questions 

  1. You are on a committee forming an admissions policy for your college. Design a policy that will ensure that your college has a diverse student body, while at the same time remaining in compliance with the Grutter and Gratz rulings of the Supreme Court. 
  2. Would it be better to have affirmative action based on social class instead of or in addition to affirmative action based on race? Why or why not?
  3. What have been the actual effects of affirmative action on opportunities for African Americans and other underrepresented minorities? For women? For white men?
  4. Discuss some of the ways in which question wording influences the opinions people express about affirmative action? What does that tell you about these opinions?
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is race inequality relative to class inequality as a factor determining the quality of life for African Americans? How about Latino/a Americans? Native Americans? Why?
  6. Discuss the impact of immigration on American society in recent years. Consider ways in which immigration may either be beneficial or present challenges. Should U.S. immigration policy encourage more immigration, less immigration, or about the same as present? Why?
  7. Should a push to citizenship be possible for unauthorized immigrants who have been in the United States for several years? Should the United States continue to build a fence along its border with Mexico?

Web Links A website called “Damn Mexicans” that is about debunking myths about immigration.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Immigration News Daily, news about immigration or of interest to immigrants A discussion of the issues in Ricci vs. DeStafano, the Supreme Court case about affirmative action, an issue in confirmation hearings for Sonja Sotomayor. US Department of Labor website page about affirmative action with the lists of policies and laws. National Organization for Women’s website with a discussion about the origins of affirmative action. 

Key Words and terms

Affirmative action Suspect category