Affirmative action proponents often suggest that giving preferences for jobs and college admission to candidates based on their race isn’t really “unfair,” not ultimately, because the policy only attempts to address the already unfair privilege that other students enjoy by virtue of being white.

As Krystie Yandoli wrote at Jezebel earlier this year, in reaction to Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Supreme Court case in which a white woman sued UT, arguing that the school’s affirmative action program was discriminatory and constituted a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment:

After turning your college rejection into a Supreme Court case and ultimately a national spectacle (see: Fisher v.University of Texas), and even after SCOTUS failed to make a final decision of their own on the matter, your continued, undying confidence in a twisted idea of “justice” is worrisome.

See, there’s this thing called white privilege. You have it. I have it. Our parents have it. And it lessens the likelihood that we’ll experience any kind of deeply rooted inequalities and discrimination.

Well, no, argues Randall Kennedy, a law profession who’s written a new book about affirmative action, For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law. Of course Affirmative Action is a form of discrimination. And that’s a good thing. And it should continue. As Raw Story puts it it:

Affirmative action in college admissions was a legally acceptable form of “benign discrimination.”

Kennedy said it was important to distinguish between benign and malign discrimination. A sign reading, “Colored people welcome” is an example of the former, while a sign reading, “Colored people unwelcome” is an example of the latter.
Kennedy argued affirmative action was a form benign discrimination used to fight the “invisible wind of racism.” Race-neutral polices, on the other hand, perpetuated the pre-existing racial inequalities in the United States.

Kennedy explains here:

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer