Anthony M. Platt



The Land That Never Has Been Yet: U.S. Race Relations at the Crossroads

Anthony M. Platt places the struggle for racial equality in historical perspective from the point of view of people of color. Given recent setbacks, he asks whether we are returning to the days of “separate but equal,” or a formal system of white supremacy. Making effective use of personal experience in the narrative, the author traces the hubris of the Civil Rights Movement and the initial gains of reforms based on affirmative action policies, through the reversals stemming from the backlash of the last 25 years that propel us toward a logic of living with inequality. The article traces the current hostile economic conditions facing people of color, the reversal of hard-won gains in the educational arena, and the changing racial demographics leading into the next millennium that present a major challenge for an anti-racist movement. The task facing such a movement is daunting: it must encompass a complicated array of social, economic, cultural, and identity constituencies and address the cultural hybridity that typifies our increasingly interdependent, mobile world. Platt argues that despite the obstacles, we must not retreat from affirmative action and the principles of racial equality, for the more we concede, the more they will take. Inviting controversy, he asserts that “multiculturalism,” with its respect for difference and uniqueness, typically accepts the basic premises of segregation and apartness and then calls on us to revisit the issue of integration (as opposed to assimilation). Minimally, we must reconnect the relationship between culture, power, and economic structures.

affirmative action; civil rights movement; discrimination in education; race relations; racial discrimination; segregation

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 24: 1 (1997): 7-23