May 31, 2002

Commentary

A Color Blind Society—Not!

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Color blind! We want a color-blind society, chant the racists among us as they line up to support Ward Connerly’s Racial Privacy Initiative (RPI).

Ersatz politico Connerly has raised serious money to secure a million signatures on his California initiative petition that might place his banning of local and state agencies from gathering racial information on the November ballot. To his embarrassment, tax filings show us that Connerly paid himself a million of those tax deductible-dollars.

The Sacramento consultant made his money helping companies observe various state and federal anti-discrimination and affirmative action rules and laws. Now he draws off the top of tax-free donations made to his efforts to promulgate his version of a “color-blind” society.

Connerly first came to public attention when he raised the money for Proposition 209, the anti-affirmative action initiative written by California college professors Tom Wood and Glen Custred. Proposition 209 passed and did, in fact, outlaw affirmative action by state and local agencies, as well as admissions to California public colleges based on race.

He serves, also, as a Regent of the University of California, a job former Governor Pete Wilson appointed him to several years ago. Unlike most of the other Regents, Connerly is not a University of California graduate.  In fact, he’s a Sacramento State College graduate - who, as it turns out filled Wilson’s political need to appoint a Black to the Regents.

Yes, anti-Affirmative Action, color-blind crusader Connerly is Black, the very last thing one would expect of such a crusader, especially one who has made his money as an Affirmative Action consultant. Despite the color of his skin, just who strongly supports Connerly? The very people who have protested racial data for years, like radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock, are lining up to shout — “color-blind.”

At the base of the RPI issue are those little boxes we check when we apply for a home mortgage, a job, or for admission to colleges and universities. Those boxes were created because banks, real estate agents, schools and public agencies that hire millions of people every year blatantly discriminated against Blacks, Asians and Hispanics for generations.

When it came to home buying and bank loans, the widespread discrimination was labeled “red-lining” or, if one can imagine a map, a big red line drawn around neighborhoods and zip codes in which no loans were given out to minorities to buy homes, or to even see homes being sold by good white people only to other good white people.

Almost every bank was guilty of “redlining.” Then came the little boxes in home loan applications that bank officers must fill out, with or without the cooperation of the customer. The wailings of minorities about prejudice in real estate were massively true.

Another good example of the good these boxes do occurred three years ago in San Diego. The University of California San Diego (UCSD) Medical School managed to avoid enrolling a single Black student in that year’s new admissions. In a (criminal, perhaps?) cover-up of that failure, the school posted on their website that seven “Black/Hispanic” medical students were admitted.  The truth, however, was that not one Black was admitted. All seven “Black/Hispanics” were Hispanic.

If Ward Connerly’s RPI becomes law, we would never know that of the world’s billions of Blacks, UCSD couldn’t find a single qualified Black to admit.

Harvard did.John Hopkins and UCLA’s Medical Schools did.

The issue: RPI’s supporters resisted the fact gathering of little boxes because they claimed there was no discrimination. Connerly and every single supporter of his, racists, mostly, fervently claim there is not discrimination in America.

The little boxes have proven discrimination at all levels of public and private endeavors beyond any doubt. Now, the move to do away with them is couched in terms of a “color-blind” society by the very people who denied discrimination in the first place.

Evidence from these little boxes on race and discrimination humiliated Connerly and his supporters. We need the data stream from these little boxes to prove day in and day out that discrimination continues contrary to the United States Constitution.

Statisticians, economists and demographers need racial data, as do academics, just to see where we are as a people and society. Constitutionalists need the data to correct the continual denial of rights of all Americans at all levels of endeavor. No data, no proof. No Proof, no correction. No correction, the racists among us win.

Contreras can be e-mailed at sdraoul@att.net

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