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Hernández Uses Affirmative Action in Latin America as Guide for U.S.

Submitted by on September 17 – 2013No Comment

In a recent piece for Americas Quarterly, Professor Tanya Hernández discussed affirmative action policies in Latin America. Whereas Latin America is embracing affirmative action as a human right, there is growing belief in the United States that the government’s role in ensuring racial equality has become less necessary.

In fact, in the U.S., support for affirmative action is now based on the limited argument of furthering diversity, rather than ensuring a multiracial democracy of fully integrated citizens. Yet a racial hierarchy continues to exist alongside an eroding social commitment to race-based programs.

Hernández highlights the success of the programs currently underway in various Latin American countries, which is due in large part to what Hernández calls a “democratic concern with social inclusion.” She calls on U.S. policymakers to consider how affirmative action has been framed in these countries as a guide for reshaping the dialogue at home.

At a time when affirmative action is under direct assault at a federal level in the U.S., Afro-descendants across the Americas share similar struggles for meaningful racial equality. Perhaps shifting the legal justification for affirmative action in the U.S. to fundamental human rights and democratic deepening will help renew the popular and political commitment to expand racial equality, much as it is starting to do across Latin America.

Read Hernández’s piece in America’s Quarterly.


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