Interview with Luke Harris
QUESTION 16
JACKIE SHEARER:

Now, I want to throw this at you. What do you respond when people say, well other ethnic immigrant groups in this society have not needed special programs like this to make it. How come Blacks are different?

LUKE HARRIS:

Well, I would, I would say two things when it comes to Affirmative Action. I take it, to begin with, that it's a, it's a, it's a mistake to dichotomize, ah, Affirmative Action to a Black White issue. Affirmative Action is much more, and it always has been, much more than a Black White issue. It's an issue that involves Native Americans. It involves Hispanic Americans. It involves some Asian Americans. It, from the beginning has always involves a certain context, White American women. And, really what we're talking about is, in what context ought Affirmative Action programs to be permissible and what context ought they not to be. And to look at the experience of, of American immigrant groups, White immigrant groups, and for that matter other immigrant groups who come to this country and to adjudge or to assess the, ah, performance of people of color in this society over time based upon, ah, the experiences of these other immigrant groups is really to compare apples with oranges. And let me tell you what I mean by that. Let's, let's look at reality of the American experience. Let's look at the Native American experience for example. Native Americans were the only group of Americans that waged a 300 year war against White encroachment. The result of that war was almost virtual genocide and removal from their tribal lands. Mexican Americans were the only group of Americans that were uprooted from an ongoing modern nation and their the only Americans that has a culture that has remain close to their original land-base in Mexico. Black Americans were the only group in this country to experience 200, 250 years of, of, ah, of slavery. And what I'm arguing is that all of these experiences are not only distinctive but cataclysmiclly different from the types of problems, which is not to undermine or not to deny that, ah, other immigrant groups coming to this country, did not face problems. They did. The Irish faced problems. The Jews faced problems. The Italians faced problems. And, I'm empathetic with respect to all those problems. But to suggest that the problems that they faced in mainland America are analogous to the problems that Native Americans or Mexican Americans or Black Americans, for example, is just a false analogy. And the two have nothing to do with one another in terms of understanding why it's important that Affirmative Action existing in temporary American nor did it have anything to do with a profound understanding of the texture and fabric of American life over the centuries and what the consequences have been of the type of regional oppression that existed here for some groups and not others.

JACKIE SHEARER:

Okay. Cut.. Good.