The Civil Rights revolution was a pinnacle of American history, freeing African Americans from centuries of disenfranchisement. Yet, according to linguist John McWhorter, it has had a tragic side effect. As racism recedes as a serious obstacle to black advancement, many black Americans have been misled into a self-destructive ideological detour. Has affirmative action fostered the cults of Victimology, Separatism, and Anti-Intellectualism? Have false assumptions and low expectations conditioned black students for low achievement? If racism is to be dealt a final death blow, what strategies must Americans black and white pursue?
Begun in the 1960s, government affirmative action policies are now in retreat in California, Washington, Florida, and many other states and localities in the U.S. Will such changes end America's racial divide or merely intensify it? Can the American Dream be colorblind or are racial preferences necessary to right the wrongs of past discrimination? Is affirmative action a force for fairness and justice or instead merely a "feel good" policy that cloaks the real barriers to social and economic advancement for the most disadvantaged? Ward Connerly and William Bagley, two distinguished members of the Board of Regents at the University of California, will debate this very timely and crucial issue.
Thirty years after the civil rights laws of the 1960s, race may still be the most divisive social issue of our time. Black unemployment, illegitimacy, crime, and school drop-out rates remain multiples of those for whites. Proposition 187's ongoing legal battles, Governor Pete Wilson's pledge to abolish affirmative action in state government, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the California Civil Rights Initiative attest to the continuing ability of race-related issues to polarize public debate. In contrast to the optimism that followed the civil rights movement of the 1960s, many today even doubt the possibility of an America characterized by widespread racial harmony.
In this Independent Policy Forum, bestselling author Dinesh D'Souza will address these and other issues, based on his new, widely acclaimed book, The End of Racism. Is racial prejudice innate, or is it culturally acquired? Is it peculiar to the West, or is it found in other societies? What is the legacy of slavery, and does contemporary America owe African-Americans compensation for it? Have government affirmative action programs helped or harmed minority groups as well as the general public? Has the civil rights movement succeeded or failed to overcome the legacy of segregation and racism? Can persons of color be racist? Is racism the most serious problem facing black Americans today, and if not, what is? Is racism an increasing or declining phenomenon?
Mr. D'Souza will chronicle the political, cultural, and intellectual history of racism. Do current government policies intended to combat the harm of racism actually help, or do they instead perpetuate a cycle of impoverishment and dependency, and hence, racial stigmatization? In his talk, Mr. D'Souza will chronicle the history of racism, examine the failed policies that have helped spread it, offer a way out of the deadlocked debate about race, and set forth guiding principles to create a more harmonious, multiracial society.