To Fulfill These Rights

Political Struggle Over Affirmative Action and Open Admissions

Amaka Okechukwu

Columbia University Press

To Fulfill These Rights

Pub Date: September 2019

ISBN: 9780231183093

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: September 2019

ISBN: 9780231183086

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: September 2019

ISBN: 9780231544740

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

To Fulfill These Rights

Political Struggle Over Affirmative Action and Open Admissions

Amaka Okechukwu

Columbia University Press

In 2014 and 2015, students at dozens of colleges and universities held protests demanding increased representation of Black and Latino students and calling for a campus climate that was less hostile to students of color. Their activism recalled an earlier era: in the 1960s and 1970s, widespread campus protest by Black and Latino students contributed to the development of affirmative action and open admissions policies. Yet in the decades since, affirmative action has become a magnet for conservative backlash and in many cases has been completely dismantled.

In To Fulfill These Rights, Amaka Okechukwu offers a historically informed sociological account of the struggles over affirmative action and open admissions in higher education. Through case studies of policy retrenchment at public universities, she documents the protracted—but not always successful—rollback of inclusive policies in the context of shifting race and class politics. Okechukwu explores how conservative political actors, liberal administrators and legislators, and radical students have defined, challenged, and transformed the racial logics of colorblindness and diversity through political struggle. She highlights the voices and actions of the students fighting policy shifts in on-the-ground accounts of mobilization and activism, alongside incisive scrutiny of conservative tactics and messaging. To Fulfill These Rights provides a new analysis of the politics of higher education, centering the changing understandings and practices of race and class in the United States. It is timely and important reading at a moment when a right-wing Department of Justice and Supreme Court threaten the end of affirmative action.
A college education is crucial for living a productive and comfortable life. Yet, in To Fulfill These Rights, Amaka Okechukwu reveals disturbing truths: access to college education is rapidly decreasing for Black and Brown Americans given the dismantling of affirmative action and open admission, and racialized disparities are likely to increase. This book should be read because it sheds lights on deeply entrenched inequalities threatening American democracy. Aldon Morris, Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, Northwestern University
I learned something new and interesting on nearly every page. This is an excellent empirical engagement with affirmative action. Amaka Okechukwu’s updated racial formation theory is smart, compelling, and engaging. Ellen Berrey, author of The Enigma of Diversity: The Language of Race and the Limits of Racial Justice
In this timely book, Amaka Okechukwu provides a provocative and engaging account of racialized conflict over affirmative action and open admissions. Highlighting the radical activism of Black and Puerto Rican students as well as opposition to racial justice from liberals and conservatives alike, Okechukwu unveils how the rhetorics of diversity and colorblindness in higher education reproduce white supremacy. This is mandatory reading for anyone interested in understanding and dismantling systemic racism in the twenty-first century. Crystal Marie Fleming, author of How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide
A truly unique, compelling, and expansive account of how both elite and grassroots political actors define, challenge, and transform admissions policies and practices. Chronicling political contestation across different sites, Amaka Okechukwu advances key concepts to help us understand and situate competing racial logics, discourses, and mobilizing strategies. An essential read for an unsettled debate. Michael Omi, University of California, Berkeley
In this timely book, Amaka Okechukwu illuminates the shifting political landscape and policy retrenchment in the wake of the dismantling of affirmative action. Despite the use of 'diversity' and 'adversity' as proxies for race, Black representation in American universities has fallen precipitously. Okechukwu demonstrates how the original logic of affirmative action has been subverted by two recent ideological movements—neoliberalism and colorblindness. Given the unrelenting mobilization of conservatives, the erosion of liberal support, and the absence of a vehement black protest movement that provided the original impetus for affirmative action policy, Okechukwu reaches the conclusion that the end of affirmative action is imminent. Stephen Steinberg, author of Turning Back: The Retreat from Racial Justice in American Thought and Policy

About the Author

Amaka Okechukwu is an assistant professor of sociology at George Mason University.