Book Talk: For Discrimination - Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law

When & Where
The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709
September 20, 2013 - 7:30pm
Contact
Melissa Mytinger
mytinger@gmail.com
510 898 8929


In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding Fisher v. University of Texas, For Discrimination is at once the definitive reckoning with one of America’s most explosively contentious and divisive issues and a principled work of advocacy for clearly defined justice.

What precisely is affirmative action, and why is it fiercely championed by some and just as fiercely denounced by others? Does it signify a boon or a stigma? Or is it simply reverse discrimination? What are its benefits and costs to American society? What are the exact indicia determining who should or should not be accorded affirmative action? When should affirmative action end, if it must? Randall Kennedy gives us a concise, gimlet-eyed, and deeply personal conspectus of the policy, refusing to shy away from the myriad complexities of an issue that continues to bedevil American race relations.

With pellucid reasoning, Kennedy accounts for the slipperiness of the term “affirmative action” as it has been appropriated by ideologues of every stripe; delves into the complex and surprising legal history of the policy; coolly analyzes key arguments pro and con advanced by the left and right, including the so-called color-blind, race-neutral challenge; critiques the impact of Supreme Court decisions on higher education; and ponders the future of affirmative action.

“Kennedy has long been among the most incisive commentators on race. His books seem to be carved from intellectual granite, yet they have human scale . . . So resonant, so personal.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Kennedy’s commitment to racial justice is plain . . . He frequently throws the cold water of common sense upon issues that are too often cloaked in glib histrionics.”
—John McWhorter, The New Republic

Randall Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his law degree from Yale. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and is a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He is the author of six books, including Race, Crime, and the Law, for which he received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word ,and, more recently, The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency ("Provocative and richly insightful." —Brent Staples, The New York Times Book Review; "Excellent."—David Remnick, The New Yorker)  . A member of the bars of the Supreme Court of the United States and the District of Columbia, and of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he lives in Massachusetts.

Tickets: $15 general, $8 students; $20 at the door

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