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Bigotry and Affirmative Action

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Question:Ask the White Guy Luke Visconti
By your refusal to accept other points of view on the subject of affirmative action, you fit the dictionary definition of a bigot yourself! 

Is discrimination of any kind wrong? I say it is. Affirmative action IS a form of discrimination, and therefore, in my opinion, it is wrong. How does discrimination become right in your defense of affirmative action?

Answer:
The American Heritage Dictionary definition of a bigot is: “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”

I’m white and I am completely tolerant of other groups, religions, races and politics, unless those groups work against human rights. I am tolerant of Roger Clegg and Ward Connerly to the point of allowing them to air their views in an issue of DiversityInc magazine. I don’t agree with them and will also include differing opinions, including my own.

I am indeed not tolerant of groups like neo-Nazis–but not to the point of denying anyone their constitutional rights.

You are welcome to your opinion, but it doesn’t change the fact that people suffer because of their “religion, race, or politics.” Although great strides have been made, discrimination is alive and well in the United States today and the aftereffects of virulent, violent and legislated racism persist and can be measured. For example, black households currently have one-tenth the wealth of white households, Barack Obama is only the third black senator since Reconstruction (more than 100 years ago), there are not 50 percent women senators, at least 30 percent of work-capable college-educated people with disabilities are unemployed, etc.

In my opinion, affirmative action does not discriminate, it provides access. I think it’s detrimental to our society to deny Americans equal access (based on a factor like race) to education and capital that will allow them to develop to their true human potential. It is not their fault, nor mine, that they and their ancestors were discriminated against, but I feel it is my responsibility to support affirmative action to correct the past injustices and provide a level playing field so the best talent wins. This must be a proactive program.

Now I know the thought on many people’s minds is that it is illegal to discriminate and therefore affirmative action is not needed. That opinion brings up a deep and potentially disturbing question: Are people created equal or NOT created equal?

If you feel that people ARE created equal, then, logically, talent is equally distributed too. I believe this–I also believe that the evidence of representation of wealth and power in our country demonstrates something went wrong along lines of race, gender, orientation, disability and age. I believe that our country is best served by enabling the best talent and making sure it has access to where it will best serve and flourish.

That is affirmative action. You can narrowly define it as “discrimination” and attack it, which is what bigot Roger Clegg does, but I think it’s anti-American to deny people the right to exist as equals. I think it’s simply not in our best interest. Sometimes you have to help a person become an equal. This raises the stature of both the helper and the helped and, in the end, our society.

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4 Comments

  • How can you be equal when someone gets a helping hand- that in itself is discrimination? You are picking out people by their race, sex, etc to receive different treatment than others.

    • Luke Visconti

      You can’t be equal now if you’ve been discriminated against in the past and have not been made whole. That’s the basis of many lawsuits. Please look up Jim Crow, Asian Exclusion Act, 1965 Immigration Reform, ADA, the Amendments to our Constitution (Nos. 13, 14, 15, 19, 24) for a start. Reflect on why women, who are 50 percent of our workforce, still receive far less average salary. However, this may not be the right website for you. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • Your views, Mr. Visconti, are common in higher education, both in admissions and hiring, where it is held that preferences on the basis of skin color “level the playing field” and bring about equality. It takes a leap into absurdity to equate race preferences with equality. Once you prefer one person on the basis of skin color, you automatically disadvantage another on the basis of skin color. It is YOUR rhetoric and “logic” that is deceptive, not Mr. Connerly’s or the majority of Americans who, by the way, reject race preferences in public life.

        I am a college professor, and I applaud Mr. Connerly’s pursuit of a colorblind America. Like it or not, Martin Luther King did not ask for preferences based on skin color. He fought for EQUAL treatment of people of all races, not PREFERENTIAL treatment.

        Also, “equality” refers to equality before the law. Equality is achieved when the government does not discriminate. Show me one single government statute or law in 2014 that discriminates against Americans on the basis of race or color. The 1964 Civil Rights Act guarantees equal treatment under the law. Ward Connerly’s Proposition 209, and identical referenda passed in several states and adopted as law, are modeled on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

        As long as there are human beings, there will be racism. However, as long as our laws prevent individuals holing such racist views to act on them in any public capacity, we are being fair and equitable. One does not remedy past discrimination with MORE discrimination. The best way to stop discrimination is to stop discriminating.

        • Luke Visconti

          You “absurdly” mischaracterize my views, and, yes, you’re a college professor—of German at a junior college.

          If Connerly felt his arguments could stand on their own two legs, he would not have named the Michigan initiative the “Civil Rights Initiative” and wouldn’t have hired Black people to collect petition signatures. Almost as scurrilous as sending anonymous letters, no? Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

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