A Black Skin Privilege Tax?
On July 20, fake petition prankster Mark Dice aired a YouTube video in which he asks primarily minorities in San Diego, CA to sign a petition advocating a one percent “White Privilege Tax” on the income of all Caucasian Americans. The signers were told the tax would be used to help fund social programs for minority communities as a means of countering the leftist fad known as “white privilege.” Unsurprisingly, the petition was well-received by a number of people. Under the banner of “turnabout is fair play,” we offer the following arenas in which a reasonable case could be made that black privilege is an integral part of the American landscape.
We begin with the most obvious aspect of black privilege known as affirmative action. The term “affirmative action” was first introduced by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, and developed and enforced for the first time by President Lyndon Johnson. “This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights,” Johnson insisted. “We seek … not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.”
The idea behind affirmative action was a well-intentioned effort to level the so-called playing field, primarily in the arenas of jobs and education. Just as important, it was supposed to be a temporary remedy.
More than five decades later that temporary remedy is still with us. Moreover that level playing field has tipped decidedly in favor of minorities, and its subsequent permutations have roiled the nation, beginning with the 1978 Supreme Court case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. The Court ruled 5-4 that the inflexible quota systems that resulted in white medical school applicant Allan Bakke being rejected in favor of less qualified minority applicants were impermissible. Nonetheless the Court maintained the legality of affirmative action per se.
In 2003, SCOTUS made two separate rulings regarding the University of Michigan’s undergraduate program (Gratz v. Bollinger) and its law school (Grutter v. Bollinger). In the former case the Court ruled that a “points system” used in the application process, awarding minorities extra admission points based on nothing more than ethnicity, had to be modified. The Court once again upheld affirmative action in the latter case, stating that it furthers “a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”
“Diversity” and the unquestioningly revered status it has been given in the precincts of the left, has produced an institutionalized double-standard that accrues to the advantage of blacks in both business and education. And if one believes the discontent that advantage engenders is driven exclusively by Caucasians, think again: a coalition of Asian-American organizations has filed suit against Harvard alleging that Asian-Americans have the lowest acceptance rates at Harvard and other elite colleges, despite having some of the highest rates of academic achievement. Harvard defends it “holistic” approach to admissions. “We will vigorously defend the right of Harvard, and other universities, to continue to seek the educational benefits that come from a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions,” declared Harvard University General Counsel Robert Iuliano.
The suit was based in part on research compiled in 2011 book, “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal” written by Princeton Professor Thomas J. Espenshade and RTI International researcher Alexandria Walton Radford. They reveal that on SAT scores, an Asian-American student “has to score 140 points higher than a white student, 270 points higher than a Hispanic student and 450 points higher than a black student on the SAT to be on equal footing.”
That peculiar kind of equal footing in search of diversity is not limited to college educations. A number of states have gotten waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act, allowing them to set race-based educational goals for students, many of which consist of lowering the passing thresholds for black and Hispanic students relative to their Caucasian and Asian counterparts. As for jobs, until SCOTUS ruled against them in 2009, officials in the city of New Haven, CT rejected the promotion of white firefighters because they outperformed minority test-takers. That decision reversed an appeals court decision joined by Judge Sonia Sotomayor prior to her elevation to the Court.
More recently Manhattan federal Judge Kimba Wood ruled that a teacher-licensing test in which blacks scored passing grades between 51 and 62 percent of the time, Hispanics 47 to 55 percent, and Caucasians more than 90 percent, violated the terms of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Wood insisted state officials had not demonstrated the test material “accurately measured the minimum knowledge about the liberal arts and sciences that teachers need to be competent” (italics mine). Wood made the ruling despite the reality that a multicultural “Bias Review Committee” vetted the test beforehand. In other words, the quality of the test itself, was irrelevant. Outcome determined bias.
Plaintiff Mayling Ralph-White who initiated the suit back in 1996, revealed the rationale behind Wood’s ruling. “I think that some testing, it’s a bit biased … because some people don’t have the same experience as others,” said the middle school teacher who now makes more than $109,000 annually. Thus, having a basic high school-level understanding of both the liberal arts and the sciences is deemed prejudicial because of the varying experience of the test-takers. That no two individuals of any ethnicity or cultural would have identical educational experiences is apparently irrelevant.
The 800-pound gorilla animating this decision? “Disparate impact.” Disparate impact “prohibits an employer from using a facially neutral employment practice that has an unjustified adverse impact on members of a protected class. A facially neutral employment practice is one that does not appear to be discriminatory on its face; rather it is one that is discriminatory in its application or effect.”
In short, outcome-based disparate impact is tantamount to black privilege on steroids. And it is a privilege the United States Supreme Court extended to housing as recently as last month. In Texas Department of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project, the Court turned the Fair Housing Act of 1968 on its head, insisting housing laws can be considered discriminatory, even if that discrimination is not intentional. “Recognition of disparate-impact liability under the FHA plays an important role in uncovering discriminatory intent: it permits plaintiffs to counteract unconscious prejudices and disguised animus that escape easy classification as disparate treatment,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Thus the Obama administration will initiate its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, essentially filtering the ethnic makeup of every neighborhood in America through a racialist lens. If that makeup offends the sensibilities of our federal government housing masters, those neighborhoods will be forced to “adapt” to a standard measured only by results rather than intent. Think Section 8 housing forcibly injected into a neighborhood of high-end houses as a means of tipping the “social justice” scales towards their “proper” balance. Towns and cites that refused to abide will be stripped of federal funding, or besieged by a plethora of lawsuits, courtesy of HUD or private groups, all of which will insist that any demographic imbalance constitutes de facto discrimination. As National Review’s Stanley Kurtz so aptly explains, “the Obama administration has effectively annexed America’s suburbs to its cities. The old American practice of local self-rule is gone. We’ve switched over to a federally controlled regionalist system.”
One that takes drive, ambition, financial wherewithal, the desire to better one’s life and every other intangible, replacing them with an ethnic spoils system that invariably accrues to minority interests.
And that’s only the tip of the disparate impact iceberg. As the Wall Street Journal reveals, the Obama administration “has used disparate-impact analysis and the threat of lawsuits to address everything from school-suspension rates to bank lending to firefighter exams.” Former Attorney General Eric Holder threatened schools that “disproportionately” suspended black students, utterly irrespective of those students’ behavior. Both before and after the housing meltdown, administration officials have threatened or sued banks, forcing them to relax loan standards for minority applicants, in order to avoid charges of racism. And when the housing market tanked in 2007, they had the gall to criticize those same banks because the bust disproportionately affected minority borrowers. As for firefighter exams, the same template that applied to minority teachers in New York was used to sue fire departments in that city as well as cities such as Austin, TX, Jacksonville, FL, and Dayton, OH. In many cases, passing test scores were lowered to get the desired ethnic result.
And even all this doesn’t scratch the surface of where this administration wants to go in the future. As New York Post columnist Paul Sperry warns, “Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on (the public’s) health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document ‘inequalities’ between minorities and whites.” Sperry reveals that such a detailed database is unprecedented, and amounts to the “largest consolidation of personal data in US history.” It is one that will be used to create “a diversity police state where government race cops and civil-rights lawyers will micromanage demographic outcomes in virtually every aspect of society.”
“The first black president, quite brilliantly, has built a quasi-reparations infrastructure perpetually fed by racial data that will outlast his administration,” Sperry concludes.
America has endeavored mightily to become a nation where one is judged by “the content of one’s character, not the color of their skin,” and no amount of leftist demagoguery can obscure that reality. Unfortunately, much of that endeavor has proceeded past the point of racial equilibrium, giving the nation a substantial amount of black privilege in the process. Jettisoning the concept of ethnic privilege altogether is the only reasonable solution. Too bad so many progressives remain adamantly opposed to it.
Originally published at FrontPage Magazine.