Cries of reverse discrimination show U.S. isn't 'post-racial'

Kansas City StarJuly 27, 2009 

A black president tabs a Latina for the Supreme Court. She had made a ruling against white firefighters. That ruling gets reversed by her prospective high-court colleagues.

It was pretty easy to guess what would come up in her confirmation hearings.

America, it seems, isn't over race after all.

Rather, now the race card is being dealt in every direction.

More and more whites — weary of a generation of minority racial preferences, fighting for scraps in a feeble economy, feeling the sting of skin color as a disadvantage — are joining minorities in crying foul.

“The pendulum is swinging where people are challenging things on both sides,” said Denise Drake, a Kansas City employment lawyer. “Everybody is saying, ‘You don’t get to consider race at all.’ ”

Earlier this month, two of Kansas City’s white budget analysts filed suit against City Manager Wayne Cauthen, who is black, and the city, claiming that age and race discrimination led to the losses of their jobs and the retention of minority workers.

Their attorney accused the city of a “whites need not apply” policy. (Mayor Mark Funkhouser and his wife were the subject of a just-settled racial discrimination lawsuit brought by an African-American woman.)

Advocates of affirmative action say that just because a clueless boss sometimes impedes a white guy instead of a minority does not mean the playing field has been leveled.

Yet they see a series of court rulings, most recently in the New Haven, Conn., firefighters case, seemingly chip away at how far an employer can go to overcome generations of discrimination that favored whites over minorities.

To Dennis Egan, who has represented women newscasters in Kansas City in sex-discrimination cases, it is a case of “conservatives all of a sudden back(ing) the issue of discrimination when it happens to be nonminorities forwarding the case.”

In 2007, writing on a case unrelated to employment discrimination, Chief Justice John G. Roberts seemed to signal the Supreme Court’s shift: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Fred L. Pincus, a University of Maryland sociologist who wrote the book “Reverse Discrimination: Dismantling the Myth,” argues that systemic racism is still in place.

Read the full story at KansasCity.com

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service