Who is really a minority?
Posted by aogMonday, 30 June 2003 at 09:58 TrackBack Ping URL
Orrin Judd touches on something that's puzzled me for years. Judd asks
Here's what we'd like to know: do college admissions departments do geneaologies and blood tests? Why don't white kids just start saying they're African-American or Native-American or whatever ethnicity is stylish these days? Who's going to check up on them?
Exactly. What is the legal basis for claiming to be African-American? Or Latino? I think of all the "official" minorities (isn't that phrase itself redolent of apartheid?) only Amerinds (Native Americans) have any real legal status. There are a set of officially recognized tribes (which makes sense unlike other minorities because such tribes are legal entities) and you're legally Amerind if one of the tribes recognizes you as a member. For other minorities, however, what's the legal definition? One drop of blood? An ancestor – how many generations back?

I think there was a case back about 10 or 15 years where two brothers applied for positions as firefighters but failed the test. They then came back later, listed their race as African-American, took the test again and passed with the racial bonus. They were busted for this but only because they listed different races on the two applications. The brothers claimed that they had "discovered" an ancestor who was black. But there didn't seem to be any other legal basis for making the determination.

As a final question, why don't businesses do this? If you need to satisfy some quota, just label your employees with whatever racial characteristics are useful. "But", you say, "what if the employee claimed a different race?". No problem - as an employer you aren't allowed to ask! Just be a bad guesser. I'd love to see a court case on this with the government arguing about how to determine the race of an employee. The logical solution is of course for the government to issue race cards. I wouldn't be surprised at this point at liberal groups openly advocating that.