Archive for June, 2009

Latest affirmative action court decision doesn’t meet the smell test

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

This week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a group of white firefighters in New Haven CT whose promotion exam was thrown out by the city for fear of litigation because the results yielded no qualified black candidates. The Court ruled that the fear of litigation is not enough evidence to show racial discrimination.

I agree, and for once find myself agreeing with the conservative wingnuts of the Court – Roberts, Scalio, Alito, and Thomas. But on the other hand this court decision really doesn’t meet the smell test when it comes to a referendum on affirmative action.

According to a recent opinion poll, 56% of the public support affirmative action for minorities while only 36% oppose it. And yet a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University cited in a June 3rd McClatchy article before the Supreme Court ruling indicated a 71% opposition to nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s appellate court decision to rule in favor of New Haven on the case, and a 56-36% support for abolishing affirmative action altogether.

Even though these polling results seem contradictory, I think they are reflective of the public’s acknowledgment that we still have a race problem but no easy way to solve it. The problem is not whether THE test is biased. The problem is that A test is biased.

Is a written test the best way of determining who is the most qualified firefighter? Or for that matter is a written test the best way of determining the most qualified candidates for any job?

We need to stop evaluating affirmative action based on test results, even though it is tempting to do so because of the quantitative nature of tests. Otherwise there are a few million Asian Americans in this country who deserve a promotion.

For more information, check out this article in the New York Times.

Ethnicmajority Affirmative Action page.

Slavery apology: many days late and a few dollars short

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Now that we have an African American President, it seems like the politically correct thing to do. Barack Obama’s immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both expressed heartfelt regret for slavery but never moved to issue a formal apology.

So now the U.S. Senate has unanimously voted to issue a formal apology for slavery, and the wheels are in motion for the House to approve it and Obama to sign it. Then all will be forgotten, right? Not by a long shot.

In approving this resolution, the Wall Street Journal quoted Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA): “Let us make no mistake: This resolution will not fix lingering injustices. While we are proud of this resolution and believe it is long overdue, the real work lies ahead”. What “real work” is he referring to? Clearly the work does not include any accountability by the government. The apology does not include any admission of guilt or acceptance of liability: “Nothing in this resolution (a) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or (b) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States”.

While I am not in favor of reparations, nothing spells insincere quite like an apology filled with CYA disclaimers written by government lawyers.

Ethnicmajority Civil Rights page.

Hispanics, Blacks least prepared for Digital TV conversion

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Are you ready for the digital TV conversion? According to Nielsen Media Research, three million American households will lose their ability to watch television when the conversion takes place on June 12th. According to Hispanic Business, about 2.5% of the population is not ready for the conversion, including 5.1% of African Americans and 4.3% of Hispanic Americans.

Why is the government forcing us to use digital TV? According to, the FCC-sponsored website set up to provide information about the conversion, we are running out of bandwidth on the public airwaves that could be used for more technologically advanced communications services.

The advancements that have been made in consumer electronics, wireless phones, and personal computers in recent years have been nothing short of amazing. I would never want to stand in the way of technological innovation, but why does the price of this progress have to be paid by the ones least likely to be able to afford it?

Ethnicmajority media/entertainment page.

How do you spell “wedge issue” – Sotomayor

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court is imminently qualified and her credentials and experience are indisputable. And she is a Latino woman. This is the ultimate “two-fer” for Obama and the Democrats.

The right-wing Republicans were going to protest against any nominee further left than Antonin Scalia anyway, just to show their ever-shrinking base that the party is still alive. In the process, their opposition has irritated scores of women and Latinos. Not a good idea for a party struggling to convince the public that their tent is getting bigger, not smaller.

That’s bad enough, but how do you make the situation even worse? Start by claiming that Sotomayor is racist for her comments a few years ago that her background and experiences made her a better judge. This is basically the same thing every judge says during their confirmation hearing because it is reasonable and logical – except if your experiences include being a Latina and a woman.

It appears that the Republicans are still using the Karl Rove playbook – attack your opponent for your own weaknesses. I await step two from the playbook. Accuse Sotomayor of being: a) a terrorist, b) an illegal immigrant, c) unpatriotic, or d) all of the above.

EthnicMajority Politics page.

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