Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sometimes The Only Cure Is Blindness

When it comes to education or employment I am like most people. I could give less than a crap about what race you are or where you come from. It all comes down to qualifications and ability. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case in this country and there are undoubtedly instances here and there when race and background are seen as differentiators. It is unfortunate but it is also reality.

Racism has always been a problem in this country. I would even call it an epidemic. It is a virulent societal infection for which there is only one cure… blindness.

The latest decision by the Supreme Court in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action is at least a step, albeit small, in the right direction. Affirmative Action was something that had a place and time. It is by no means a perfect solution but it at least prompted a slight increase in diversity in the educational system and the workforce. And what is the best way to fight racism? That’s right, with more racism. After all, Affirmative Action is inherently racist.

You don’t need to think about it too much to realize that the law was designed so that race is considered in all aspects of higher education and in the workforce. Regardless of the pool of applicants, there are certain quotas that must be met. How would you feel if your child was turned down from a college because the school must maintain a certain level of diversity? How would you feel if you got a job over someone else, someone who may have been more qualified, because of the color of your skin?  

We have gone from one extreme to the other as we try to play political sociologist. While it is without question wrong to discriminate, it should be equally despicable to be racist. And yes, in this scenario, those are two different concepts as it has always been wrong to discriminate based on race and you can’t turn someone down for a job solely based on race when they are otherwise equally or more qualified than the other applicants. However, the requirement to admit students based on certain racial ratios is not discrimination, it is racism. So, as you can see, they are treated as two completely different concepts. This is Affirmative Action in action.

Now, while Affirmative Action is not completely eliminated from the books it is at least in the hands of the people. That is what was done, the Supreme Court is allowing the states to determine whether race can be a consideration in admission to state schools. Specifically, as reported in the Washington Post, “By a vote of 6 to 2, the court concluded that it was not up to judges to overturn the 2006 decision by Michigan voters to bar consideration of race when deciding who gets into the state’s universities.”

In a show of restraint by the Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.) wrote the main opinion:
“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it… There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”
So, in the end, it is up to us. We must demonstrate our blindness, fight for what is right, and also come to terms with the fact that life is not always fair! It is our individual efforts, responsibility, and work ethic that make up who we are. While we all have the opportunity to live life to be proud of in this country happiness is not guaranteed. It is our right to pursue happiness. Our decisions, our efforts, and our ability to see past many of our differences are essential in the achievement of that happiness. As was determined by the justices, it is our decision.