GA 06.22.07 - Rethinking Affirmative Action

Attended the Interfaith Alliance Breakfast this morning. Interfaith Alliance was co-founded by Denny Davidoff, a UU powerhouse and former Madame Moderator of the UUA. Its purpose is to provide a counter-point to the Religious Right and to demonstrate a positive role for religion. In partnership with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, one of their main campaigns right now is First Freedom First, in defense of the beleaguered anti-establishment clause of the First Amendment.

I think that the Interfaith Alliance is much needed. But was a little disturbed by the stridency with which they spoke against the Religious Right. (Don't remember that from last year.) I am no fan of the Right, but get wary when the tone gets to be "us good versus them evil." Otoh I understand that we live in times where it's hard not to feel the urgency.

Spent the rest of the day pretty much either in Plenary Sessions or staffing the booth. If you happened to come by the Advocacy & Witness booth, we probably met. Perhaps you were lucky enough to snag a cupcake as we celebrated the 5th birthday of our Social Justice internship program.

By far the highlight of the day was getting to hear Bill Cross speak again. In February, I had the good fortune to be able to attend the Southeastern Conference on Cross-Culturalism in beautiful Savannah, GA. (Yes, it is every bit as beautiful as they say.) Dr. Cross transformed the way that I view black/white race dynamics in this country. Until I heard him talk, I had been under the false impression that slavery had decimated black culture and families, and was thereby responsible for many of the problems today. Dr. Cross meticulously showed us how that wasn't true, that despite slavery, African American culture and families were alive and well in the decades immediately following abolition. Rather, it is the economic and penal systems operating today that are in place to oppress black society.

And he did it again today, showing how the GI Bill that allowed underclass, recently immigrated Euro-Americans to integrate into middle-class white society after WWII was basically a form of successful affirmative action. So if we can have affirmative action (ie - economic incentives for the purpose of integration) for one group, why not another?

Meanwhile, this stirring article came out in the local Portland newspaper.

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Acknowledgments is made possible in part by generous support from the Fahs Collaborative