... and that in addition to his book "Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America," he's written biographies of 2 white male comedians, John Belushi and Chris Farley. Here's a HuffPo piece that had him going on about how he has no black friends, even though he's totally liberal and lives in NYC. He's "never even been inside a black person's house." So that's his background. Why he's the person to declare and explain the failure of affirmative action and to propose a solution, I do not know.
Does Slate know? Obviously, Slate's publishing the article boosts Colby's stature as an expert on this topic. It's why I'm reading Colby's piece. But I can see the reasons why Slate would publish this. It knows its readers are mostly white liberals, and it's easy to guess that they're susceptible to the narcissistic question: Where are my black friends? (Obama counts as one friend, but he's always so busy.) And Slate's headline is one of the most egregious pleas for traffic I have ever seen: "Massive Liberal Failure on Race: Affirmative action doesn’t work...." Massive! Liberal! Failure! Race! The righties will not be able not to link to this, I can hear them chuckling. And maybe, oozing in around their self-loving liberalism, they believe that plenty of their regular readers, the good liberals, feel secretly aggrieved about affirmative action.
I don't care about Colby's version of history. ("That Richard Nixon was racist is well beyond dispute....") I just want to examine the "new solution" part:
Racial preferences may have taken black America into a socioeconomic cul de sac, but you can’t just tear up the road and leave people with no way to get out. Fortunately, the one thing the left does have is the leverage and the political capital to end affirmative action in the right way. Right now, the Democratic party and the racial justice movement are sitting on a junk heap of racial preference programs that aren’t doing anyone much good, and they lack the substantive programs they need: a true, New Deal-style reformation that repairs the infrastructure of our cities, ends mass incarceration, provides access to early education and paid family leave and job training and other programs that put all of black America on more solid footing. Since Republicans seem to want affirmative action gone so badly, if it were me, I’d be out horse trading.Do Republicans want out of affirmative action? I know some conservatives like to talk about wanting to arrive at colorblindness, but much of that is political rhetoric. The GOP is not a unified entity, but even if it were and that entity were hungry to end affirmative action, it would be ludicrous to see that goal as equivalent to a giant liberal wish list that entails lavish spending and letting lots of convicted criminals out of prison.
And that assumes that there is a unified entity on the other side that has the power to deliver an end to affirmative action. There isn't! Affirmative action is dispersed throughout many institutions, at many levels of government and private enterprise. But Colby says:
Just as the Obama administration is letting Washington and Colorado opt out of federal marijuana prohibition, let state and local governments opt out of affirmative action mandates, but only in exchange for opting in on universal pre-K and other things that working families actually need.Affirmative action doesn't exist because of top-down mandates! This isn't horse trading. It's unicorn trading.
If conservative politicians and judges are allowed to end affirmative action for the wrong reasons — a very real and immediate possibility — it’s safe to say that race relations in our great land will not improve.The "wrong reasons" — in Colby's world — are legal reasons. He's afraid of a Supreme Court decision killing affirmative action on Equal Protection grounds.
The onus falls on liberals to end it for the right reasons...The "right reasons" — in his view — are that it doesn't produce racial progress.
... and to use that opportunity to replace it with something meaningful.The opportunity to be used is the liberals' political willingness to end affirmative action, which he imagines puts them in a powerful bargaining position to extract big concessions from those Republicans with their contemptible fixation on color-blindness.
There's one more sentence, some pettishness about how we'll never make it to "the Promised Land" unless we fulfill his grandiose left-wing dreams.