Class, priveledge, and government handouts designed for whites have long been a barrier to the middle class for others.
[Rolling back Affirmative Action] implies that all that stands between hard-working whites and success are undeserving minorities who are doled out benefits, including seats at good schools, by reckless government agents.
In fact, today’s socioeconomic order has been significantly shaped by federally backed affirmative action for whites. The most important pieces of American social policy — the minimum wage, union rights, Social Security and even the G.I. Bill — created during and just after the Great Depression, conferred enormous benefits on whites while excluding most Southern blacks.
Southern Democrats in Congress did this by carving out occupational exclusions; empowering local officials who were hostile to black advancement to administer the policies; and preventing anti-discrimination language from appearing in social welfare programs.
Southern legislators introduced the same job category exclusions into other New Deal laws: the Wagner Act of 1935 that helped to expand industrial unions, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that mandated a 40-hour workweek and a minimum wage that explicitly left out agricultural and domestic workers.
Representative James Wilcox, a Depression-era Florida Democrat, explained the region’s position during the Fair Labor Standards Act debate: “You cannot put the Negro and the white man on the same basis and get away with it,” he declared.
When Congress passed the G.I. Bill in 1944 to help white veterans buy homes, attend college, get job training and start business ventures, it could have done the same for blacks. But at Southern lawmakers’ insistence, local officials administered these benefits. As a result, Southern blacks were left out, except for low-level vocational training. The law accommodated segregation in higher education, created job ceilings imposed by local officials, and tolerated local banks’ unwillingness to approve federally insured mortgages or small-business loans for African-Americans and Latinos.
Making Affirmative Action White Again https://nyti.ms/2uQ4ay0