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A Post-Racial America? Not Quite Yet.

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October 17, 2011

In a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Ward Connerly, a long-time foe of affirmative action, repeats his call for the end of race conscious decision making. Connerly points to the race of the president and other elected officials throughout the country as “evidence” that the United States has achieved a color-blind society. He effectively pronounces discrimination and inequality dead.

In response to Connerly’s opinion piece, Dennis Parker, Director of the Racial Justice Program, writes:

Ward Connerly conveniently ignores evidence that discrimination and inequality continue to block access to even the most basic opportunities that every American should be able to expect. Considering race by itself is not the cure-all for the inequalities that persist in America today. But the fact remains that programs considering race have been successful in improving prospects for people of color, women and others who have been denied opportunity both historically and today.

The true state of bias and inequality in America is told in the numerous studies and statistics showing that African-Americans and Latinos are almost a third more likely to get a high-priced loan than white borrowers with the same credit scores, or that African-Americans with no criminal record are less likely to be called back for a job interview than similarly qualified whites with a felony conviction. The current median wealth of white households is now 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic’s – the most lopsided it has been since the government began publishing data a quarter century ago. Black and Hispanic unemployment is twice that of whites, and blacks are 70 percent more likely to lose their homes to foreclosures.

All of these are stark reminders that even if the disease of discrimination and inequality is in some ways less virulent than it has been in the past, it is premature to pronounce it cured. Eliminating affirmative action would be a tragedy which would only move us further from the goals of fairness and excellence that Mr. Connerly claims to support.

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