Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Who Is Special?

Before going on with this post, I would like to assure all of the readers of this post that I am not a racist, a bigot, and nor do I believe that any one race is superior to another. People are people, and how they conduct themselves is a reflection upon themselves, not about the color of their skin. Whether or not they want to make an issue of skin color, I leave that to the well-established organizations that have a history of such actions & views. Any comments alluding to the contrary will be subject to the Blog Comment Policy posted at the right.

As many of you know, February is Black History Month. This means that my work is now plastered with placards, posters, and art celebrating the ethnicity of Americans of African descent. I personally do not have a problem with this – everyone should be able to relate to and celebrate their heritage.

Other months and weeks celebrate Hispanic, Asian, and Native American ethnicity, and also have their own posters, art, and whatnot showing the rich culture that these groups have. And yes, there is a Gay, Lesbian, and Trans-gendered display for that community that gets put up once a year. But there is nothing celebrating the White, Caucasian, or European stock that populate this country.

Why is it that only certain groups get their days in the sun while a certain group does not? Now while I admit to being of mixed-Irish decent, St. Patrick's Day just doesn't cut it in my humble opinion. One day of revelry (?) does not make up for a month of hoopla (and even then there are some accounts that the day has a negative connotation about the Irish, but I digress). But if I or others of my ethnic background make a fuss about this apparent inequality, we are promptly branded racist, hate-mongering bigots.

This is one of the reasons that I believe that diversity, as a whole and in practice, is a sham. If we truly want to celebrate a diverse culture, we would not single out one race or skin-color for omission nor raise one up above all others. And if one ethnic group points out the inequality, they shouldn’t be flamed for it.

From another angle on the same subject, I was listening to a local radio station, and there was a statement that Detroit was the most segregated city in the United States. There was a further announcement that there was going to be a symposium to discuss the issue (translation: problem). Is this really a problem or not?

I hate to state the obvious, but people of similar ethnic backgrounds tend to band together. There is this herding instinct, one that wants to have familiar or similar faces and backgrounds around us. Be honest with yourself – do you have more friends of a similar race to yourself, or from a different race? What is your real preference? Nothing to be ashamed of – that's just the way humans are.

But the problem is that there are people thinking that this is inherently wrong behavior. These pointy-headed social engineers (PHSE) believe that to think differently than their paradigm means that you are racist and a hate-monger. Sorry, Professor PHSE, that is a false assumption for your perception of perceived problem.

The fact of the matter is that you and I most likely have more friends of similar skin color than not. This doesn’t mean that we are racist or bigoted. In fact, I get along with just about everyone whether or not they are the same skin color as I am or not. But the PHSEs don’t like this, and lobbied for laws and regulations to force the issue.

I’m not talking about the civil rights acts that guarantee everyone a fair shot at jobs, housing, or education. Rather, the ones that I am thinking of are ones that state quotas (explicit or implicit) for the same subjects: jobs, housing, and education.

As an example, there is a regulation that states that each large corporation must award a certain percentage of business to minority-based or owned suppliers. To do otherwise would incur higher taxes or fines. These businesses know this, and typically charge higher rates for their services. Is this fair to a non-minority owned business?

Another example is Michigan’s Proposal 2 that was overwhelmingly approved by the voters last election. It stated in part:

Ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes. Public institutions affected by this proposal include state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts.

And the courts are now battling the will of the people stating that this is unconstitutional! In effect, the courts are arguing that some places in these institutions should be reserved, i.e., a quota, for people that may not otherwise qualify or have the opportunity to attend school or get a job. Excuse me? Shouldn’t the best qualified people be hired for the job or an educational spot instead of a person that isn’t? Here would be my argument to the court:

Suppose that a person who does not have the ability or education is hired for the job of designing and building a highway bridge. They are contracted merely because the contract that needed to be filled was reserved for a person of that ethnic or social background. Would you want to be the first person to drive over that bridge after it’s completed?

Because of this argument, I have problems with quotas wrapped in the guise of affirmative action. Everyone should have an equal bite at the apple, but the deciding factor should be on the person's ability & merit, not race, gender, or social standing. Unfortunately, what has happened is not fair and is patronizing to those people that the affirmative action programs are supposedly helping.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post titled Equal Diversity. In it I wrote:

Government sponsored quotas & regulations will not change people’s attitudes toward diversity. All these will do is promote division, dissension, and resentment. I have noticed in recent years an increase of these attitudes. This is NOT what Martin Luther King had in mind.

His vision looked for the Negro people to stand side by side with the White people as equals, and to get there by self-sufficiency, not by a government mandate. He wanted his people to rise up to their potential, to stand on their own two feet, not by some law or subsidy. Patronage of the Negro was not his vision, but to join the human race as equals to any other ethnic group, to enjoy the fruits of hard labor through equal opportunity, and not through quotas.

So whether it is an ethnic holiday, applying for a job or education, or anything else, we should be color-blind, and so should our government, education, and employment institutions. It’s either all or nothing as far as I’m concerned – I’m fed up with the double-standards and favoritism. How about you?

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