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Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby

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Overview

In a climate where whites who criticize affirmative action risk being termed racist and blacks who do the same risk charges of treason and self hatred, a frank and open discussion of racial preference is difficult to achieve. But, in the first book on racial preference written from personal experience, Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, Stephen L. Carter, Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University and self-described beneficiary (and, at times, victim) of affirmative action, does it.Using his own story ...

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Overview

In a climate where whites who criticize affirmative action risk being termed racist and blacks who do the same risk charges of treason and self hatred, a frank and open discussion of racial preference is difficult to achieve. But, in the first book on racial preference written from personal experience, Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby, Stephen L. Carter, Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University and self-described beneficiary (and, at times, victim) of affirmative action, does it.Using his own story of success and frustration as “an affirmative action baby” as a point of departure, Carter, who has risen to the top of his profession, provides an incisive analysis of one of the most incendiary topics of our day—as well as an honest critique of the pressures on black professionals and intellectuals to conform to the “politically correct” way of being black.Affirmative action as it is practiced today not only does little to promote racial equality, Carter argues, but also allows the nation to escape rather cheaply from its moral obligation to undo the legacy of slavery. Affirmative action, particularly in hiring often reinforces racist stereotypes by promoting the idea that the black professional cannot aspire to anything more than being “the best black.”Has the time come to abandon these programs? No—but affirmative action must return to its simpler roots, Carter argues: to provide educational opportunities for those who might not otherwise have them. Then the beneficiaries should demand to be held to the same standards as anyone else.

A self-described beneficiary and, at times, victim of affirmative action confronts the problems spawned by our national obsession with racial measurement. Carter provides a thoughtful analysis of this controversial issue, arguing that affirmative action often allows the nation to escape inexpensively from its moral obligation to undo the legacy of slavery.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Yale law professor Carter's provocative critique of affirmative action has stirred much debate and discussion. (Aug.)
Library Journal
The latest book to look at the issues facing African Americans from a point of view different from mainstream civil rights organizations, it begins with Yale law professor Carter discussing the positive and negative effects of affirmative action on his life. He then expands his study to include other topics such as the increase of racial incidents in America, dealing with political correctness and the conflicts between the mainstream liberal black community and the increasingly vocal so-called black conservatives. Like Shelby Steele's The Content of Our Character ( LJ 8/90), Carter's book is well written; unlike Steele, Carter provides lots of detailed documentation to support his ideas. A book that will find lots of readers and stir debate. For all libraries. (Index not seen.)-- Danna C. Bell-Russel, Mary mount Univ. Libs., Arlington, Va.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465068692
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/1991
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 1,446,347
  • Lexile: 1450L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen L. Carter

Stephen L. Carter is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University. Once a clerk to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, today Carter is among the nation’s leading experts on constitutional law.

Biography

Stephen L. Carter has helped shape the national debate on issues ranging from the role of religion in American political culture to the impact of integrity and civility on our daily lives. The New York Times has called him one of the nation's leading public intellectuals.

Born in Washington, D.C., Stephen L. Carter studied law at Yale University and went on to serve as a law clerk, first on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and later for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

In 1982 he joined the faculty at Yale, where he is now William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law. His critically acclaimed nonfiction books on subjects including affirmative action, the judicial confirmation process, and the place of religion in our legal and political cultures have earned Carter fans among luminaries as diverse as William F. Buckley, Anna Quindlen, and former President Bill Clinton.

Carter's first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, draws heavily on the author's familiarity with the law and the world of highly placed judges, but he didn't begin by attempting to write a "judicial" thriller -- Carter earlier tried the character of Judge Garland out as a White House aide, and also as a professor like himself. He has said that in the end "only the judicial role really fit."

With Emperor Carter has moved (for the moment) from writing nonfiction to fiction -- a shift which he downplays by noting "I have always viewed writing as a craft." But, while he has also indicated that another novel like this one is in the works, he sees himself as "principally a legal scholar and law professor" and plans to continue publishing nonfiction as well.

Good To Know

An avid chess player, Stephen L. Carter is a life member of the United States Chess Federation. Although he says he plays less now than he once did, he still plays online through the Internet Chess Club. For The Emperor of Ocean Park, Professor Carter says he had to learn about "the world of the chess problemist, where composers work for months or years to set up challenging positions for others to solve."

Carter lives with his wife, Enola Aird, and their two children, near New Haven, Connecticut.

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    1. Hometown:
      Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 26, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A. Stanford University, 1976; J.D., Yale Law School, 1979

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2010

    A Much Needed Correction

    This book was not written by Stephen L. Carter, nor was it published in 1968. Please fix this so that potential readers have the proper information and can make an informed choice on whether to read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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