MINORITY REPORT: What's Happened to Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Other Minorities in the Eighties by Leslie--Ed. Dunbar
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MINORITY REPORT: What's Happened to Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Other Minorities in the Eighties

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Chiefly about blacks, but probably the most solid and rounded appraisal among the many books appearing on the 30th anniversary of Brown--which opened ""the modern civil rights era"" (as one contributor notes) and led to the abolition of legal inequality, yet left us today with greater economic inequality than 30 years back. ""The primary minorities issue facing American government and society today is economic,"" writes editor Dunbar (ex of the Southern Regional Council, the Field Foundation), in his concluding argument for remedial action; it is also the underlying thesis of the five other main contributors. (Peripheral here is Vine DeLoria's historical link-up between ""Land and Natural Resources"" and various minorities--blacks, Mexicans, and Appalachians, as well as Indians.) Among the separate articles, Charles V. Hamilton (Political Science, Columbia) sees growing black political participation colliding with the traditional American ""return to normalcy"": ""new groups are making demands that call for more, not less, government intervention in the economy."" Herman Schwartz (Law, American U.) reviews ""assaults on affirmative action"" and provides a succinct, well-reasoned defense of the policy. Diana Gordon, also a lawyer, gives the criminal justice process a careful, thorough going-over--finding us closer to equal protection than equal justice, weighing conflicting studies of discrimination, offering some sound ""middle-range"" corrective measures (most notably, reintegrating ""crime control"" into the community's ""informal social controls""). But the two stellar pieces are by William Taylor (now director of the Center for National Policy Review at Catholic U. Law School), whose study of ""Access to Economic Opportunity"" details and analyzes developments of the past 30 years (pinpointing the impact of government policies); and William J. Wilson (Sociology, Chicago), who treats of ""The Urban Underclass"" with a frankness and bleakness that, he charges, ""liberals"" avoid--and makes his wonted case for present discrimination as a minor factor alongside migration and demographic patterns, housing concentration and economic shifts. Wilson is the odd-man-out in this gathering--unsympathetic to affirmative action (as benefiting the already advantaged), or to ""ethnic culture"" interpretations, pro or con (unsound, stereotyping)--but a valuable sharpener-of-debate. In company with Michael Harrington's The New American Poverty (p. 566), a repository of information and ideas for study, discussion, and action.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1984
Publisher: Pantheon