Why is Our Nation So Obsessed with Race?

This morning, I read an article in the Portland Business Journal about the Oregon Department of Transportation refining their quota system to be more specific about which minorities will get what percentage of contracts. This afternoon, a friend told me her 15 year-old daughter was accosted at school by a student who called her the n-word and then snarled “White power!”

The ODOT quota refinement is the epitome of bureaucratic stupidity. The incident at school is an example of ugly, mindless malice. But there’s a common thread between them:  Basing judgments on race rather than individual merits.

The state of Oregon did a “disparity study” and determined that, even with a mandate that 14% of ODOT contracts go to minority-owned businesses, specific minorities are underrepresented. Native-American contractors got 8.2% of ODOT contracts and Hispanic-American contractors got 6%, while African-American and Asian-American contractors got less than 1% combined. Over a third of the businesses qualifying for the state’s “disadvantaged business enterprise” certification are African-American, and almost a quarter are Asian-American.

So the state decided to rectify the imbalance by requiring at least 6% of new contracts to be awarded to African-American or Asian-American contractors. But now Native-American and Hispanic-American contractors are claiming discrimination because they foresee losing contracts to African-American and Asian-American contractors to meet the new micro-quota.

Ordinarily, contracts are awarded based on bids and qualifications. If certain contractors aren’t getting contracts, presumably, either their bids are too high or they’re not as well-qualified. On the other hand, if the reason they aren’t getting contracts is because of corruption or bigotry on the part of those awarding the contracts, then those individuals shouldn’t be in charge of awarding contracts. If that’s the case, changing the quota requirements won’t address the real issue. But, if that’s not the issue, then the reallocation of quotas is even more senseless, and can only result in either costing the taxpayers more or in hiring less qualified contractors.

If the purpose of quotas is to ensure equal opportunity, regardless of race, sex, or whatever, why not award the contract to the most qualified contractor with the lowest bid, regardless of race, sex, or whatever? The imposition of quotas inherently creates a double — or, in this case, triple — standard, pitting African/Asian-Americans against Hispanic/Native-Americans. And, after requiring 6% of contracts to go to either African-American or Asian-American contractors, what happens if Asian-Americans end up with 5% of the contracts and African-Americans with only 1%? Will they then mandate that African-Americans must get 3%?

Perhaps the only way to make this work would be to allocate contracts based strictly on demographics. If exactly 5% of the population is of whatever ethnic derivation, then exactly 5% of the contracts would be set aside for contractors of that ethnicity. And, of course, within each ethnic allocation, half of the contracts would have to go to Female-Americans, lest we be condemned as sexist…

On the other side of the coin from senseless bureaucracies awarding contracts based on race rather than qualifications, we have senseless individuals, viciously spewing invective at individuals they don’t even know, feeling justified because they’re a different race.

My friend’s daughter is a shy, quiet girl in her freshman year of high school in a small city in rural Oregon. There aren’t many black families here, so she attracts attention just by existing. 15 is a difficult age for girls, with all the changes they’re going through, and even a girl who blends right in can feel painfully self-conscious at times. For a shy girl, who shuns being the center of attention, it must be tough to be the only black kid in class, even on a good day.

This is a family that believes in personal responsibility, and would never seek or expect special consideration based on race. So, after the incident occurred, their daughter refused to report it. It was humiliating enough to be singled out for denigration and intimidation because of her race, without complaining to the authorities like a victim demanding redress. That isn’t the way she was raised. But, when her mother recounted the incident to me, recalling the pain in her daughter’s eyes made her break down and cry. And she’s a pretty tough woman.

Kids will be cruel and call other kids names. That’s part of life. But it’s a hard lesson to learn for a 15 year-old girl that she has classmates who feel a blind hatred toward her, and cannot even see her for the person she is, just because of her race.

Nobody’s entitled to special benefits because of their race. Nobody should be subjected to malicious harassment because of their race. Each person should be judged on their own character and their individual merits. Why is that so hard for so many people to grasp?

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. All these years have passed since Martin Luther King expressed his confidence that one day his children would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Yet people still don’t get it.

    Today, governments mandate racial discrimination and require folks to “celebrate diversity” (which simply means that one should look for differences, rather than for commonalitites).

  2. “Today, governments mandate racial discrimination and require folks to “celebrate diversity” (which simply means that one should look for differences, rather than for commonalitites).”

    Very well stated Max. The only point I would like to add is that we only appear to push diversity in “taditional” white or blue collar jobs. Imagine if the same principal of diversity was applied to the business of profesional sports, each team must have a quota of black, brown and yellow players vice looking for the best Running back or the most efficient Point Guard. I don’t know of enough non-white hockey players to diversify each team-so should we ban hockey?

    Welcome back NYD!

  3. hmmm, I wish quotas were an effective way to pit quotees against each other to get a better deal for the taxpayers! Sad to see things are in such a sad state in Oregon!
    Can’t we all just get along?

  4. “The incident at school is an example of ugly, mindless malice”

    …that was likely triggered as a backlash to the USA electing the country’s first black President. There have been numerous, numerous stories about the increase in hate crimes across the USA after this year’s election. As per usual, you are waaay behind the curve on this one NYD.

  5. Mr. Guy, are you suggesting that, had Obama not been elected, there would be less racism in our country? Wow, you are a deep thinker.

  6. “are you suggesting that, had Obama not been elected, there would be less racism in our country?”

    LOL…of course not you fool…you’re *intentionally* trying to twist what I have said above. All that’s been going on all over the country (and apparently right under your very nose) is a backlash to the idea that there will be a half-black man in the White House. Racists everywhere are upset about this, among many other people.

    BTW, the auto industry just got bailed out by your boy GWB…so much for YOUR “deep thinking”…LOL!!

  7. Does anyone remember the child molestation scare about 20-25 years ago? A few high profile news stories and suddenly anyone that worked near children was fair game to be falsely accused. Child day care workers were especially vulnerable.

    For the past 15 years or so, racism has been the new social leprosy. The OJ trial was a particularly obvious example of this. The hysteria surrounding the Duke rape case is a more recent one. The race baiters such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton derive their power from this phenomenon.

    The Obama supporters have an obvious streak of hypocrisy running through their euphoria. They have said that Barak Obama is a great unifier and that his election was not about race. Yet,, in the same breath they celebrate the historic nature of his rise to the nation’s highest office. Someone please tell me, what the other historical factors were , other than race.

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