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The primary objective of this senior thesis is to explore how the logics of access, affirmative action, equal opportunity, educational pipelines, and diversity have been constructed, defined, and understood in contemporary U.S. American higher education; and how these meanings and their discursive power relations have shifted over time, from the passage of the Civil Rights Act to the present. Through a comparative study, I critically investigate two private sector educational outreach programs: Questbridge Scholars and the Posse Foundation. Within the context of neoliberal multiculturalism and racial capitalism, I seek to understand how these programs came to be, what conditions necessitated their emergence, who do they serve, how do they recruit, and what discourses do they produce about the academic merit and worthiness of underrepresented minority students? In this investigation, I seek to both understand how these programs alter the debate on race-conscious affirmative action, and what they can reveal about the discursive realities of minority inclusion. To this end, I argue that the privatization of affirmative action is part of a larger strategy within institutional cultures to produce and affirm a "color-blind" ideology that undermines, devalues, and ignores the persistent racial inequity in post-civil right U.S America.
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