Recognizing racism

September 03, 2010 | By PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION

Author: Joshua Thompson

I came upon this case out of the Seventh Circuit today, where a nursing home worker was prevented from treating certain patients.  The patients, it seems, didn’t want to be treated by her because she was black.  The case deals with Title VII and private discrimination, and while PLF has done a couple of Title VII cases, private-to-private discrimination generally falls outside of PLF’s individual rights practice area, which focuses on governmental discrimination.

Nevertheless, I think this case presents a classic example of the continued existence of racism in America.  Opponents of racial preferences are, disingenuously, chided as failing to recognize the existence of discrimination.  But we oppose racial preferences by government because we feel that the government should not look at the color of one’s skin when awarding contracts, granting school admissions, or hiring workers.  That is not to say that opponents of racial preferences don’t recognize that the evils of racism still survive in American society.  We do, and this case presents a perfect example of that.  But, allowing the government to discriminate on the basis of race is not the answer.  As I put it in our brief in Fisher v. University of Texas:

[governmental discrimination] perpetuates stereotyping; … dehumanizes the very individuals it is designed to aid; and, … infring[es] on the … individual right of equal protection.

[It] in effect, enshrines certain kinds of factionalism as a universal good . . . . Diversity raised to the level of counterconstitutional principle promises to free people from the pseudo liberty of individualism and to restore to them the primacy of their group identities . . . . Real equality according to [preference proponents], consists of parity among groups, and to achieve it, social goods must be measured out in ethnic quotas, purveyed by group preferences, or otherwise filtered according to the will of social factions.

Opposing preferences does not mean turning a blind eye to the evils of racism.  Indeed, opposing governmental discrimination is perfectly consistent, and necessary, to root out racial discrimination in all its forms.