Michigan’s governor and legislative leaders spent enormous energy these past few days in lame duck session trying hammer out a road funding proposal. When they coalesced around a proposed 17% increase in the state’s sales tax as the solution, these leaders faced the challenge of getting a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to place the measure on an upcoming ballot. Because several Republican members opposed the tax hike, Democrats would have to almost unanimously vote ‘yes’ on the measure – and the Democrats understood their leverage.

 

According to MIRS News, a respected political newsletter, Democrats were willing to vote for the tax if Republican Governor Snyder would issue an executive order mandating racial preferences for some bidders in the selection of road project contracts. According to MIRS, Gov. Snyder was considering approving this deal, despite his 2010 campaign promise that he would respect voters’ 2006 approved ban on race preferences in public contracting.

 

Thankfully, this voter-approved ban is in the Michigan State Constitution – a fact brought to the Governor’s attention by several principled legislators privy to the negotiations. The race preferences deal was scuttled.

 

The moral of this story is that campaign promises by politicians are not enough to secure your right to equal treatment under law by your government, without regard to your ethnicity or gender. The legislative process is too convoluted and the demand for special treatment too politically profitable. Citizens must be vigilant in protecting their right to true equality through lawsuits, public education and awareness, and – if possible – with strong legal authority. It was the citizens of Michigan’s willingness to place a ban on race and gender preferences in their constitution in 2006 that saved them from racial contracting policies.

 

- Jennifer Gratz

 Both Black and White Americans say race relations have deteriorated during President Obama’s administration, according to a Bloomberg Politics Poll released this week.

 

Poll participants were asked, “Do you think race relations have gotten better, gotten worse, or stayed about the same under the first black president?“. Only 15% of Black respondents and 7% of White respondents thought Obama’s presidency improved relations compared to 45% and 53%, respectively, who said race relations have become worse.

 

America has made great progress toward racial equality over the decades, but the lack of public enthusiasm regarding Obama’s contribution to that progress should come as no surprise. Obama the candidate promised “one America” and progress toward a “post-racial America”. Obama the President delivers the exact opposite: race quotas in everything from federal contracting to health care – even demands for race quotas in school discipline policies.

 

Americans have different ideas on a myriad of issues with racial overtones, from Ferguson, MO to New York and beyond, but almost all Americans have the same goal: equal treatment for every citizen under the law. The best way to achieve that goal is to live it – and not undermine it with affirmative action race quotas and preferences.

 

- Jennifer Gratz

Lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina were filed this week by a group that includes two unnamed college students who were rejected from those schools. According to Inside Higher Ed, the Harvard applicant is of Asian ethnicity who had a perfect ACT score, the highest possible SAT score on several exams, and was valedictorian of his high school. He didn’t get in.

 

According to Reason Magazine author Robby Soave, Harvard has kept their Asian student population constant over many years, while universities that don’t consider race as an admission factor have seen more Asians gain admittance.

 

Harvard has a history of placing an arbitrary cap on students of certain backgrounds. Between 1918 and the 1950s, Harvard put an arbitrary cap of 17% on the number of Jewish students it would accept in incoming classes. Thankfully, civil society no longer morally accepts “too many Jews” as a valid form of discrimination. The result of ending the Jewish quota has been that Harvard has been more successful at being the university for the best and brightest students. When will Harvard – and all universities – recognize that applicants should be judged based on individual merit, not representatives of certain racial or ethnic groups?

 

Harvard’s “too many Asians” quota is just as immoral and repugnant as their previous discrimination and should not be tolerated. Accepting the best and brightest applicants – even if they are ‘guilty of applying while Asian’ – can only help Harvard be a stronger institution while also protecting our American value of equal treatment under law without regard to ethnic background.

 

As someone who has personally gone through the exhausting, frustrating, and intimidating process of suing a major university for fair treatment, my heart and prayers go out to the courageous students who filed this week’s lawsuits. Thank you for your courage and willingness to fight for what is your right: to be judged as an individual and not as a representative of a certain ethnicity or skin color.

 

- Jennifer Gratz

Left-leaning groups claiming to represent minorities frequently demand increased “diversity” in Hollywood, insisting that movies and television portray a higher percentage of specific types of ethnic characters. But when producers acquiesce, the diversity police then complain that minority actors are treated like racial and gender tokens.

 

This week, one Hollywood insider wrote in Salon about his behind-the-scenes observations on how the entertainment industry makes a superficial show of diversity for the cameras, just to satisfy the critics. Strangely, he call for more superficial quotas to fix the issue.

 

The “diversity” movement is so set on quotas and preferences as the answer to perceived racial disparities that its advocates fail to recognize how their “solutions” exasperate the problem and hurt real people in the process.

 

No one should have to live with the thought that they might have been hired or promoted just to fill a diversity quota. Unfortunately, this is what happens when companies and industries are pressured to make superficial diversity displays.


- Jennifer Gratz

In the wake of a surprise midterm election wave, many politicians and pundits are fumbling to explain why a near obsession with race and gender politics fell so short.

 

Why didn’t more women pull the lever for Mark Udall in Colorado with his endless focus on the supposed “war on women”? Why were black voters not as enthusiastic to turn out in support of Democrats after being warned about the prospect of more Ferguson-like shootings? Didn’t Hispanics see the campaign ads accusing Republicans of opposing immigration reform?

 

The answer is that most Americans are not the single issue voters politicians are so eager to label them as.

 

Proponents of identity politics display a disturbing fascination with reducing unique individuals to homogenous groups where gender or skin color determines how you are expected to think, act, and vote on election day. Election strategy based on cobbling together these disparate identity groups is profoundly cynical and insulting to those who make informed decisions about their preferred candidates.

 

This election, voters seemed largely unmoved by widespread, and ugly, appeals to racial and gender politics. This is an encouraging sign that Americans are growing weary of the all the identity pandering.

 

- Jennifer Gratz

 

Last week I commented on an interview with President Obama in which he insisted colleges should be able to use race preferences policies in admissions as long as it is done in a “careful way.”

 

The Washington Times published my full thoughts on the matter on Tuesday. You can read the op-ed here.

 

“Careful” discrimination is still discrimination. Policies that draw lines between black applicants, white applicants, Hispanic applicants and Asian applicants mean that some groups receive preferential treatment and others are forced to achieve higher standards simply because of skin color.

 

America is more divided when government uses race to benefit some and discriminate against others. My hope is that one day soon our elected officials will help us move in the right direction.

 

- Jennifer Gratz

“There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

‒ Senator Barack Obama, 2004

 

Far from the vision of hope and unity, President Obama has reinforced racial divisions. In an interview published with The New Yorker this week he insisted that colleges and universities should be able to offer racial preferences in college admissions ‒ treating people differently based on skin color ‒ as long as it is done in a “careful way.”

 

Lofty campaign rhetoric aside, the President advocates drawing lines between black applicants, white applicants, Latino applicants, and Asian applicants. University administrators in turn get to decide which groups receive preferential treatment and which ones get discrimination.

 

Today, people are born with all kinds of advantages and disadvantages, both perceived and real. This fact was acknowledged by then-Senator Obama in 2007 when ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked him if his daughters should receive special treatment when applying to college because of their race.

 

Obama admitted that his two daughters “should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged”‒ a subtle acknowledgement of the absurdity of using race to assess a person’s need. While his daughters may share the same skin color as a child in inner-city Chicago, their backgrounds are worlds apart.

 

In an increasingly pluralistic society, race usually does not ‒ and certainly should not ‒ determine what obstacles individuals have had to overcome or advantages they receive. The President campaigned on united one America, but is governing to divide.

 

- Jennifer Gratz

Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition is pressuring General Motors to increase its number of minority-owned dealerships. GM is eager to comply, but the arguments being used to defend this move reveal the hypocrisy of “diversity” advocates.

 

GM’s VP of Diversity Dealer Relations, Eric Peterson, stated this week, “As you look at the growth and growing diversity in the United States, we’re finding more and more people want to do business with people like themselves.” Mr. Peterson’s belief that people prefer buying cars from dealership owners with similar skin colors is a position that seems to contradict a recent Center for American Progress study which concluded that kids benefit from having teachers of different races.

 

On the one hand, we are told that “diversity” policies are needed because they promote intercultural interaction. On the other hand, the same “diversity” policies are being used, in cases like this, to make sure every individual can do business with someone of the same skin color.

 

It seems the only consistency in these arguments is that racial central planners want to be in charge of economic opportunities and dictate outcomes based on skin color.

 

There are many benefits to having a society comprised of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities and we are right to strive for a culture that provides fair opportunities for any individual who works to excel. But demands for racial gerrymandering in business, politics, or any segment of society only stall our progress as a nation toward colorblind equality.

 

- Leon Drolet

 

***

Leon Drolet is a former Michigan state representative who chaired the 2006 Michigan Civil Rights Initiative which constitutionally banned race preference policies at public institutions. He is now the Director of Programs at the XIV Foundation.

“I’m tired of being labeled. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American. I’m an American.”

 

Former child star Raven-Symoné, who first appeared on The Crosby Show in 1989, expressed this in an interview with Oprah earlier this week. She is not the only one who feels this way.

 

Whether it’s skin color, gender or ethnicity, people across the country are frustrated with the kind of thinking that seeks to reduce a person’s identity to a checked box on an application. These independent-minded thinkers have unique opinions, talents, backgrounds, and character and are fed up with being treated as tokens, instead of as individuals.

 

Raven has taken a lot of flack for not embracing her African-American identity. In the world of pseudo-diversity and identity politics, you don’t get to pick who you are, society picks it for you. You can be your own unique person as long as you think and act like someone with your identity is supposed to think and act.

 

No wonder she’s tired of labels. Aren’t you?

 

- Jennifer Gratz

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times this week highlighted a new poll which allegedly shows that California’s Asian Americans support affirmative action. Note that the question used in the poll was: “Do you favor or oppose affirmative action programs designed to help blacks, women and other minorities get better jobs and education?”

 

The wording states that affirmative action will “help…other minorities get better jobs and education.” Are Asians “other minorities.” Do the Asian American respondents support affirmative action that will “help them get better jobs and education”? The truth is that race-based affirmative action hurts Asian Americans’ efforts to get better jobs and education through policies that impose quotas and higher standards.

 

The people who conducted this misleading poll concluded that the majority of Asian Americans support affirmative action — and thus racial preferences. They insist that it was merely an intensely motivated minority of Asian Americans who derailed SCA-5, an attempt to reinstitute racial policies in California that failed earlier this year.

 

The truth is far more likely that Asian Americans are fine with programs that are described as helping people get better jobs and education but are intensely opposed to programs that discriminate against them or others. Suppose the question was asked, “Do you favor or oppose affirmative action programs designed to help some minorities get better jobs and education by discriminating against whites, Asians, and other ethnicities?”

 

The poll is designed to extol the alleged benefits of race preference programs while deliberately concealing the costs. It is like asking, “Do you favor programs that lower the cost of college education” without telling poll participants that such a program would raise their taxes or cost them in some other way.

 

The pollsters came to wrong conclusions because they failed to consider the most important questions on the minds of Asian Americans. Are these programs fair? Who are the designated losers? And what are the consequences?

 

- Jennifer Gratz