More thoughts on the Racial Equity Toolkit

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To the editor:

Gerald B. File’s “Racial Equity Toolkit” letter in the June 22 Alexandria Times shows how far we’ve strayed from the original thinking be- hind our civil rights laws, which were designed to require “color blind” approaches in employment, education and other areas. The idea of using statistics to prove discrimination crept in later, but always had generous escape valves if an alternative explanation could be made.

Today’s avant garde “diversity, equity, and inclusion” arise from a narrow exception to “color blind” college admissions, technically justified as a business exception, but which have grown to an extent that they eclipse our civil rights laws’ original intent.

Although popular, particularly with urban governments and large corporations, “diversity, equity, and inclusion” sit on a shaky legal foundation because our civil rights laws were designed as “color blind.” Alexandria’s city hall recently learned this the hard way in a federal lawsuit against one of its diversity initiatives. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court reminded higher education that diversity had been al- lowed as a consideration for only a limited time and its time was up.

File’s concern about marginalized Hispanic communities, whose self-esteem, he claims, would benefit from seeing a member of their heritage in a leadership position, suffers from the irony that, under school segregation, minority students saw members of their heritage routinely in leadership positions. The only tweak needed would have been to open up the superintendent’s position to all segregated schools’ principals so that superintendents were not always white. Our civil rights laws require, instead, making personnel decisions based only on candidates’ credentials.

There is nothing nefarious in Black staff’s slight overrepresentation relative to student body at Alexandria’s high school campuses because Blacks should be expected to comprise a disproportionate share of the applicant pool, owing to lower drop-out rates than Hispanics, higher percentages of U.S. citizenship – government employers often require citizenship and cannot hire applicants lacking legal work authorization – and above-average naturalization rates.

-Dino Drudi, Alexandria

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