When Affirmative Action Was White elaborates on this core theme in four stages. First, the author looks at how African Americans were denied access to economic relief during the New Deal. Although many federal officials understood that black sharecroppers were the hardest hit group during the Great Depression, a full 65 percent of African Americans were denied access to social security benefits, government grants, elderly poor assistance, and unemployment insurance. Administered by local politicians throughout the South, New Deal relief programs were simply not given to the vast majority of African Americans. The result was the deepening of black rural poverty.