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The Boston Globe

Books

Book Review

‘For Discrimination’ by Randall Kennedy

One can only hope that Randall Kennedy gets to discuss “For Discrimination” with Stephen Colbert. The Comedy Central host claims adamantly to be “colorblind.” He does not see race. In his comedy persona, Colbert dramatizes all the obfuscations and hypocrisies of the colorblind stance.

Likewise, in this meticulously argued book, Kennedy implores us to forget the idea of the “colorblind” Constitution, which he maintains is a historically inaccurate interpretation. Kennedy sees such terms as “colorblind” and even “diversity” as misleading sops to a conservative anti-affirmative action bias. Affirmative action is, at its core, says Kennedy, about race. It is discrimination, he says — “positive” discrimination, meant to correct a long history of racial inequity. Affirmative action needs to be seen for what it is, he says, and as a social program it needs to be maintained.

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