Splashed across newspapers worldwide, were the headlines touting President Obama’s Hispanic pick for Justice David Souter’s seat on the US Supreme Court. Blaring from car radios and flat screens monitors in bars and home sets, was pictures of the president’s humble nominee telling her heartwarming story of growing up poor in public housing while being raised by a single parent. With all the reasons, excuses and reasonable explanations for taking the loser route in life, this smart and spirited woman found a way to parlay those smarts and spirit into a second to none success story; save for the president himself.
We can only wonder why someone who found away to beat the odds of a disadvantaged upbringing and subsequent rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the South Bronx, would want to cripple those following her with the broken crutch of Affirmative Action. The title of this posting Rages To Ricci refers to her decision to allow the city of New Haven Connecticut throw out the test results of a fighter fighter’s promotional exam because no black fighter fighters scored high enough for a promotion. In doing so, Judge Sotomayor denied white fire fighter Frank Ricci his promotion along with 17 other non-black fighters. Hence, we are right back where we started again with the Affirmative Action argument.
In our opinion, this was a no-brainer, as all the participants took the same test, given the same amount of time study for and complete the exam under the same conditions. Baring any shenanigans during the scoring of the examination, the results should stand and Mr. Ricci should have been rewarded for his efforts. End of Story. Alternatively, it should have been. Why would Judge Sotomayor and the president for that matter give the Republicans something like this to rally their base around? If ever there was a story that would piss the White male vote off is a battle over Affirmative Action issues during a time when good jobs are hard to find.
It is stories like this that the White on the far right has been able to profit from politically for decades. It is also decisions like this that feeds the flames of racism, feeds the silent narrative that Blacks are not as capable as Whites are and without a leg up, they cannot compete intellectually. It is stories like this that feeds the notion that Judge Sotomayor will be an activist Justice, leveling the ethnic playing field from the bench. If Blacks are as savvy as we know them to be, they will no longer let the negative connotations of Affirmative Action taint their accomplishments with an asterisk.
Since most Americans don’t have clue of what Affirmative Action really means and how it is truly applied in the business world, they rely on the politics and the sob stories of the more qualified person being overlooked for a good job or a student with a higher GPA being passed over for placement in a good school in order to make room for some illiterate street urchin. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. In business, Affirmative Action is used to expand the search for qualified women and minorities beyond their usual accepted means of locating the talent for their workplace. They make an effort to create a balanced pool of potential candidates to fill a particular position without sacrificing qualifications or credentials. If the goal is to bring in more women and minorities, it is done with quality and not quotas.
The day of quotas and set asides have long ago fell by the wayside, yet these misperceptions continue to persist for purely political and divisive motives. These are the types of cases that get peoples blood boiling on both sides of the issue. This is also the type of issues the Republicans will ride for as long as they can, while raising tons of dough for the 2010 midterms and beyond.
Is there a better way to achieve parity on test scores in schools, universities and employment performance examinations? Absolutely! However, it does not come at the expense of those who are currently prepared for success; it comes from addressing the systemic social, economic and educational disparity that has historically plagued women and minorities in this country. Until America decides to fairly distribute funding for education nationwide, then there will always be lopsided results when evaluating achievement and the probability thereof.
Lets face it, if some kids are showing up at schools with classes being taught in the bathrooms because of overcrowding, hungry due to finances, little support from home, one computer per 50 students, with dated books and teachers that are poorly trained themselves, only the absolute focused and determined will do well enough to escape their fate. That’s just the naked truth. If we find away to fix these problems on the front-end, we won’t have these Supreme Court battles on the back-end. Click here for the podcast.