Why Affirmative Action No Longer Works - David Frum - The Atlantic: Lyndon Johnson’s America was a country slashed by a color line of racial domination and subordination. Even the most affluent black citizen of the United States could expect to face humiliating economic and social discrimination. Meanwhile, the white majority overwhelmingly regarded itself as “middle class,” standing on a more or less equal footing with other “middle-class” whites.
Today’s America is a country whose class distinctions are growing as extreme as those in Edwardian England. Johnson’s assumption that non-black Americans all enjoyed more or less equivalent opportunities “to learn and grow, to work and share in society, to develop their abilities” seems poignantly out of date. A white skin may still correlate less with poverty than does a darker skin. But that skin alone long ago ceased to convey much in the way of privilege to the less affluent half of white America. It’s true, even Oprah can encounter rude treatment in a Swiss boutique. Day in, day out, however, William Julius Wilson’s prediction has been vindicated and more than vindicated: In 21st-century America, class trumps race.