Reversing “Reverse” Racism or Something.

The case of Ricci v. DeStefano involved 17 firefighters who had taken the qualifications exam to become firefighters. All passed, all were white, but one Latino, and the city invalidated the test because they feared a racial discrimination lawsuit. The court found that this was essentially “reverse” racism and violated Title XII.
The ruling yesterday to overturn Ricci v. DeStefano was another bad decision in a series of bad decisions by the SCOTUS that will have implications for communities of color, women and poor people. Legal Momentum tells us why,

The Court created a new, more stringent standard for employment discrimination claims in striking down the New Haven Fire Department’s attempt to ensure that its promotional exam did not discriminate against Black and Latino candidates. We believe that the standard articulated by the Court reflects a flawed interpretation of Title VII and is contrary to congressional intent.
Irasema Garza, President of Legal Momentum, stated: “Employment discrimination continues to be a major problem. To this day, women and minorities remain egregiously under-represented in many employment sectors. Astoundingly, the Court’s decision acknowledges this fact and yet requires employers to avoid policies and practices that would help to remedy this discrimination. This decision will make it far more difficult for women and minorities to get good jobs in fields that continue to exclude them, such as firefighting, and for employers to eliminate barriers that have proved discriminatory in their effect.”
Further, as a supporter of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Legal Momentum strongly disagrees with those who might use the Court’s decision to imply that Judge Sotomayor and her colleagues in the Second Circuit erred in their ruling below. The Second Circuit panel of which Judge Sotomayor was a part acted with appropriate restraint in applying the precedent as it existed at that time. The matter before the Supreme Court involved issues of first impression and the Second Circuit’s opinion was consistent with the views of four Justices on the Supreme Court as well as with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice.

Also, what about the possibility that Alito was also racially biased in making this decision? As Adam aptly asks at Tapped, why is racial discrimination only considered an offense when it is women or people of color being biased against whites?

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118 Comments

  1. Crumpet
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    But if the people in the hiring pool met the qualifications and were told they would be promoted, revoking their promotions is not justified just because there is not a certain number of POC applying for the positions.

  2. Arvilla
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t question her ability to read. I questioned her dedication to making herself knowledgeable about the topic.
    It gets really old that these threads have to start at Racism 101 sometimes. Really old. Starts to feel like we’re talking to a wall.

  3. stellarose
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    The thing about Title VII is that the disparate impact itself — the fact a disproportionately low number of minority firefighters passed the test — raises a presumption that the test is illegal disparate impact discrimination. The employer is then allowed to make its argument that the test was legitimate – that policy is “job related for the position in question and and consistent with business necessity”, and no reasonable alternative test that would have less adverse effect on the protected group would serve the same purpose.
    Having skimmed the case, it seems that the employer in this case was able to put forth enough evidence to convince the court that the test was substantively OK. Whether we agree with the determination the court made on this factual question or not is another issue.

  4. MJGabay
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    @RMJ – Well, even through that point of view, which makes sense to me, the city HAD vacancies to fill, is my understanding of the situation. It is not as though they were like “quick, we have lots of whites, let’s do some promotions!”. They had vacancies they NEEDED filled at that time and they tried to fill them at that time for that reason. When they only qualified applicants were whites, they nullified the results. Similar to what @Crumpet said.

  5. megara
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really agree with the post, but for different reasons than most. I completely agree that this smacks of people crying “reverse racism” and I wholeheartedly disagree with the ruling.
    But, I don’t agree with the article that is linked to, and therefore, this post for giving it kudos.
    The problem with Alito isn’t that he might have been influenced by his own background, including his race/ethnicity. This is the same argument people were trying to make against Sontomayor, who was criticized heavily for saying that her race and her background would influence her as a judge. And most of the people in the feminist blogosphere (including me) cried foul, given that gee, most people are influenced by who they are. So that’s not Alito’s problem here. The real problem is the failure to understand discrimination, oppression and racism. In this case, the city (surprisingly), administered an exam, realized that it had a racial and/or ethnic bias, and corrected that action (although for racist reasons, fearing those litigation-prone minorities isn’t good motives people). The test was racist, oppressive, and discriminatory, not the reversal of the test.
    So while I agree that the ruling sucks, I don’t agree with the why. On the other hand, I do have to mention that it is a symptom of a racist, sexist society that Sontomayor, a Hispanic woman, got critiqued for saying that her background might influence her, while no one worries about Alito, a white-man, doing that. I don’t think either person could ever not be influenced by their background, but I do think the assumption that minorities (in Sontomayor’s case, women, people of color) are influenced by their background while people of privilege are not is another oppressive incident.

  6. Logrus
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Advice in the form of implication of ignorance is like any other form of condescension.
    You’re excusing your own behavior the same way some misogynist might when confronted about “chivalrous” behavior: “I was just trying to be helpful to the little lady, you know because women are lesser beings and so on.”
    Every time a dissenting voice comes up the first assumption that some people make is that the person just must be uninformed or ignorant, never that they have read the same stuff as you have and come to a different conclusion. Philosophy isn’t mathematics, it is possibly to observe the same thing and come to different conclusions about the meaning or values of those events.
    Hell, that’s even true of math.

  7. megara
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I agree that the test should be re-worked. But if you agree the test is racially biased then you also have to toss out the results, and wait for new ones, based on an unbiased test.

  8. Arvilla
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    In what way did I imply he was ignorant/unimformed. The only thing I implied or said was that he was being condescending by suggesting we would tear him apart for dissent.

  9. Arvilla
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    You may consider yourself a feminist. I hope so, in fact. But you gave the impression that you felt you had something to fear from Feministing readers. I really just meant you didn’t need to act like WE were barbarians. “Feminists” seemed like the best way to describe the us I thought you were referring to.
    Another piece of advice, though, is not to be so scared of being flamed. It’s just the internet. These topics get emotional because they’re about really serious issues. It’ll help you a lot in the future if you can just tell yourself going in, “If people get mad at me for this opinion, I won’t take it personally. I’ll either reassess my opinion, defend myself, or disconnect.”

  10. Logrus
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Must be why a half dozen other people feel you were intolerant in your response. We’re all on the same crazy-pills.

  11. Arvilla
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    No seriously. What did I imply he was ignorant or uninformed about?
    I didn’t say crazy pills, but I think you all might be reading my post to be a lot more hostile than it actually was.

  12. MJGabay
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    @BackOfBusEleven
    So after your assertion that the test was racially biased, I read the other comments and some more on the wikipedia article. I wasn’t able to find too much information, but assuming that the the lack of prep materials was in fact a big factor causing hispanics and blacks to do poorly on the exam, I would then agree that there is a problem. I wonder if canceling all the exams is the best way to rectify it though – why not let those who failed retake the test after allowing sufficient time and access to prep materials? After all, everyone who took the exam spent a lot of time studying and spending money on prep materials in some cases. It seems unfair to THEM to completely invalidate their hard work.
    It seems to me that the availability of the prep materials (ie specific evidence that the test discriminated against minorities) was pretty important to this issue, so I’m a bit disapponited this (or some other evidence) did not show up in the main post. :(
    With regards to my opinion of affirmative action, maybe I have some misconception but I dont’ see what it is from your post. You say I believe the “lie that women and people of color only get jobs because of affirmative action and that they stole that job from a more qualified White man.” Perhaps I don’t understand things correctly. I agree that if two people were perfectly equally qualified, there is no problem with giving that job to the underrepresented person. Perhaps I just don’t understand how affirmative action is actually carried out- my only concern is that less qualified people would be given preferential treatment when things are NOT at least very nearly equal. But perhaps that never ever happens and I misunderstand?
    That having been said, I fully agree that the fire department should go actively recruit for well-qualified individuals from underrepresented groups.

  13. Steven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Read the case here:http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-1428.ZS.html
    The test was created by an private organization with experience in creating hiring and promotion test. The test was based 40 percent on a written exam, 60 percent oral exam, as that was the terms dictated by the Firefighters Union.
    The test was written at the 10th grade level. A candidate with dyslexia scored 6th out of 77 candidates.
    The candidates were told what chapters out of what books they had to know.
    The test materials cost $500.
    All candidates had three months to study for the test.
    There were 30 oral examiners. A candidate faced a panel of three oral examiners, two of the three were minorities.
    The written was pre-tested on a sample that was skewed to wards minorities in an attempt to reduce disparate impacts.
    After the test, the private company requested and received feedback on their test. They threw one question out and gave everyone credit for the test.
    The test is not in question.
    The city spent about $100,000 to create a racially blind test… so why did so many minorities fail the test?
    The City had done everything in their power to create a fair and balance test… they should have certified the test results.

  14. MJGabay
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    After administering the test, what responsibility does the city have to investigate racial discrimination?
    I suppose that after this ruling, they would have to do just as good a job in doing an investigation to throw out the test as a discriminated minority would have to do when trying to accuse the test of being discriminatory! So that sounds like a good thing to me, right?
    In other words, if this ruling had happened before the case (wow, I know, I just blew your mind) the city would have had to actually find the source of iniquity (the test prep materials it seems) before throwing out the test in order to prevent lawsuits from the white people. So that’s GOOD right? Had this ruling not been passed, and the same thing were to happen in another city, the city could just throw out the results without ever finding out the PROBLEM. Won’t this ruling encourage people to find and correct actual SOURCES of iniquity rather than just doing silly things out of fear of lawsuits?

  15. MJGabay
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    P.S. Is there any way to subscribe to the comments? It makes me sad to think I might miss some interesting ideas just because I forgot to check back in to the site. RSS feeds or email updates or anything?
    P.S.S. What does the little brackets before the posters name mean? Ex. [0+]

  16. Gular
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, and your advice was basically to shut the fuck up about the fact that this place is adversarial. That’s not really advice, though, I think.

  17. Steven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    …while no one worries about Alito, a white-man…
    Justice Alito is Italian…. in some peoples eyes that is not white.
    Alito on several occasions has gone on about his immigrant heritage and the racism his fore bearers encountered in the United States.
    It seems that Alito may follow the same distinction.

  18. Gular
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    There have been so many comments on this forum about the “check your tone” argument it’s absurd. “Check your tone” has been recognized so many times as a form of silencing. Many of the POC on this forum regard it as a form of “shut up, Darkie” (their words, not mine) and I tend to agree with them, since having had the realization that I was prone to do it myself.
    You also did nothing to actually answer his comment which brought up some good points.
    Also, to answer your question from “where did I do that” here you go:
    Don’t start your first posts at Feministing out with some insinuation that feminists are barbarians just dying to tear you apart for disagreeing with them, even if your points are rational.
    He had really started off by noting how adversarial this place is and was hoping for civil discussion. The first thing you tell him is that he started his post incorrectly by making his statement about this site into a broad-brush feminist characterization. as much as we’d like it to be, they’re not the same thing.

  19. Logrus
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Pot, the kettle called.

  20. Brian
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    When a good number of people take your post to be hostile, you should consider that maybe your post was more hostile than you intended, rather than they all took it as more hostile than it was.
    (Of course, what’s merited depends on how you imagine the post you responded to, which may also vary.)

  21. Steven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    One of the best ways to follow your discussions is to go to your profile page and click on the subscription button “Responses to Comments from ___________.”
    I think you can substribe to the Feministing main page and community page, but not an individual conversation.
    The brackes represent how many times a unique reader clicked the “I Liked this comment” link under the test of your post, next to the reply and report abuse links.
    The numbers allow you follow the group-think.

  22. Gular
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    I think you’ve missed an essential point in Affirmative Action (AA, because I’m probably going to be saying it a lot).
    AA’s goal isn’t to give someone a leg up. It’s actually to prevent an employer from looking at two applicants and saying “well, candidate A is white, B is black. We like white people more here. S/he is hired!” which is what had happened a lot when the measure was passed. I’m sure it still happens, but employers have to be damn sure to really cover their tracks. AA, on that end, does also protect white people because an employer can’t say “we don’t have enough black people here, so B is hired.” It does cut both ways.
    With this particular case in Connecticut, the city had found that the test was promoting white candidates at a much higher rate than those of minority status. They thought the test was being discriminatory and so took away the test for re-evaluation, thus making the promotion impossible and stripping these men of the ability to be promoted. The law suit is really about how the city handles its promotions through testing.
    The SCOTUS found that the test itself was not really racist because there wasn’t “enough probable cause”.
    I think it’s a misstep in the way we interpret Title VII because if there is a testing disparity between race, then there is something wrong with the test and the city should re-evaluate.

  23. Gular
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    you made me LOL. Thank you ^_^

  24. Gular
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    The SAT has been reformatted several times because it was found that white takers of the test tended to do much better than the minority takers, regardless of location where the test was administered.
    Any good test will have been reformed due to probable racial or gender bias.

  25. Steven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Test that include questions regarding cultural capital will be skewed towards the culture that made the test.
    Especially ‘high’ culture, opera, philosophy literature.
    As an extreme example from Alaska, one standardize test for school children found that Rural Alaska Natives, when asked where milk comes from, always said “The store” as the best answer and not “A cow,” as that reflected their best answer.

  26. Steven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Racial bias what?
    Of the test? I don’t think so.
    Some groups self-select for different jobs at different rates.
    In the military the infantry and combat arms are skewed white… often white infantry men join out of a sense of tradition as their family has been in the military for generations.
    The military overall is skewed towards minority groups. Different minority groups join for different reasons.
    There does not need to be racism for that result.
    Just because people self-select for a job does not mean the promotion test, or the hiring test was biased.

  27. Daliah
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    People come to these websites to learn because they have an interest in the topic, not because they already know everything there is to know about feminism and the issues surrounding it. It may be frustrating, but we should be patient an try to draw people near instead of pushing them away from our viewpoint.

  28. Daliah
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    There is actually quite a bit of interesting research on this topic that suggests that beyond the content of the test itself (which has already been mentioned by others) the environment in which the test is taken is important.
    For example, if a math test is given to a classroom of boys and girls boys will tend to do better, unless the girls are told beforehand that girls have been shown to do better on this test. The beliefs people bring with them when they walk into a test environment are shaped by our culture and surroundings and can be very important factors in test taking.

  29. Daliah
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Another question is why do people self select and the answer to that question may very much be rooted in issues related to racism, such as historical discrimination (generations of white people doing something that POC were not allowed to do) and SES
    Would you also say that (for example) no one needs to worry about the fact that there aren’t enough women who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, or should we ask ourselves what led to this?

  30. Steven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    So… the non-white candidates did badly because they thought they would do badly?
    That’s not the tests fault.
    Especially after all of the effort the city put forward to make the test balanced.
    (Disregard if you are speaking about test in general and not this one specific test).

  31. Arvilla
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Lolllllllll

  32. Steven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I am trying to focus on the particulars of the case at hand, as the Supreme Court looked at an individual case.
    In my estimation, if the test was as fair as the city could have made it, then the results should not have been thrown out.
    If the non-white firefighters had faced racism themselves I am sure that recent EOCC complaints would have made their way into the record. But they have not.
    The Supreme Court noted that the City had problems with racism in the 1970′s. Which is why the city spent over 100,000 to make a test, and had the conduction of the test handled by outside organization.
    Racism does exist… but the point of all of the trials was to get at what really happened, not what hypothetically happened or what happens in Fortune 500 companies.
    Its about a Fire Department in the city of New Haven.
    Its also about balancing disparate treatment and disparate outcomes.

  33. Daliah
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, tests in general, does not so much apply to this one…

  34. Daliah
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    You brought in some outside examples, as did I, although I agree that we should focus on this case.
    I think we do need to look at it in broader terms, beyond the test itself. As was mentioned throughout this thread, you can spend 10,000 making the test valid (as you demonstrated they did) but as long as the access to preparation materials is not equal it is may be racial bias.
    I do not think that the results of the test should have been thrown out and I do not disagree with the ruling, I just disagree with your statement about self selection, it truly rubs me the wrong way…

  35. Honeybee
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Actually I hadn’t really considered alot of this before. It’s something I need to think on.

  36. Steven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    What is it about self-selection, or my comment specifically, that bothered you?
    I think self-selection is an important factor we need to rememeber.
    And just because one group is over-represented, it does not mean that that racism or sexism, institutional or otherwise, is at play.
    Could it? Should we be on guard for it? Of course. But we also should not have knee jerk reactions in any way.

  37. ghostorchid
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    I mean, yes, I agree that the under representation of women and minorities in certain fields of work is disconcerting and I would love to see it rectified. I just don’t feel that it should be done to the detriment of well-qualified people whose only crime is NOT being able to shift the balance for us.
    Let’s lose the sham that a) qualifications were ever the sole criteria for job applicants and b) employers can objectively assess how qualified a candidate is. Qualifications are not as cut-and-dry as you think.
    Affirmative action addresses that reality that a) race has always been a criterion for applicants and b) an applicant’s race influences perceptions of their qualifications.
    Affirmative action for white people already exists; it just isn’t formally legislated. It’s informally practiced via racism. Legislating affirmative action for people of colour doesn’t give them an edge; it compensates for the preference most employers will already give to white candidates. It’s reality-driven: we can’t stop employers from favouring certain candidates because of their (white) race, but we can force them to tack some favour onto candidates who aren’t white.
    Imagine a swimming race in which white swimmers – but not swimmers of colour – have 15 seconds quietly deducted from their end time. Imagine that the swimming race’s administrative officials let this unfairness happen because they’re predominantly white and hold racial prejudices. Imagine there’s no way to stop them. The swimmers of colour wish there were more diversity amongst the officials, but the only way to become an official is by having previous experience as a highly successful swimmer. You can see the dilemma for swimmers of colour; they can never win because the odds are stacked against them, and they can’t change the odds because that requires power – and to get that power, you have to have beaten the unbeatable odds. It’s a shitty situation to be in. So a rule is instituted: officials are formally required to subtract 15 seconds from the end time of swimmers of colour. This counterbalances the 15 second deduction white swimmers already get, and allows more swimmers of colour to rise up in the ranks until there’s enough diversity amongst the judges that no 15 second bonuses are given to either race. You can devote your attention to helping make the black swimmers better athletes through school programs, funding, resources, etc – that’s important too – but until you address the glass ceiling of whiteness, you’ll never solve the problem.
    Yes, some perfectly decent white swimmers are going to get screwed over by this. But so what? Perfectly decent swimmers of colour get screwed over all the time. At least this screwover is mutual and will facilitate less screwovers in the future.
    Under-representation doesn’t happen just because we don’t have enough good candidates of colour. That assumption really sells people of colour short and gives undue credence to white hiring committees. I know many white employers who feel they genuinely want more diversity in their organizations, and bemoan the lack of qualified candidates of colour. But you know what? You can hand them a qualified candidate of colour and many will say, “Oh, this person doesn’t really feel like a good fit for our organization” or some BS like that. Why? Because they want someone who feels familiar to them, who seems relatable to them, who matches their mannerisms and interests, who doesn’t make them self-conscious or afraid of saying offensive shit, who doesn’t seem different. And they are usually unable to see how that translates into whiteness.
    Now, you made a good point about education and starting programs earlier. That point feels comfortable to us – there’s no ideological queasiness like there is with affirmative action – but it’s also born out of some privileged ignorance. There’s this tendency among white activists to focus on education, education, education. We have to help the youth, they say. We have to start early. And that’s true, we do – but too often, “start early” also means giving up on the current generation. It functions as a cop-out – “oh, it’s too late for us to do anything about adults of colour! We missed the deadline!” It’s like everyone’s waiting for some non-existent opportunity to hit “pause” on the time remote and quickly inoculate the nation’s youth against inequity – as if we’d even know how! This ideal world in which we can finally get a great crop of equally-privileged youngsters who will become egalitarian adults and save us from our sins is a myth and fantasy that every generation has had since time immemorial. The children can’t save us when legacies are passed down from adults stewing away in a matrix of inequalities. We’ve already missed the ball on starting early; what we need to do now is start late. We need to hit the ground running, and that requires us to deal with the reality of race in the job market instead of idealistically hoping we can act based on an ideology of colour-blindness that nobody actually espouses.
    In other words, in an ideal world, white people wouldn’t have to feel like race is a factor in job attainment. But we don’t have that world. Welcome to the bed we made for ourselves by forcing that feeling onto people of colour. The discomfort of knowing that our race affects shit is a hundredth of the pain people of colour have endured, and now we’re going to have to endure our little slice to make things right in the long-term.
    There is no pain-free way out of our racist legacy. At some point we must recognize that we the privileged can’t claw our way out of this one without serious sacrifice. The road to equality will hurt. Suck it up.

  38. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I think your solution still wouldn’t fly. Would the White firefighters who passed the test be promoted, even though all of the firefighters who took the test weren’t on a level playing field to begin with? That wouldn’t be fair, because the White firefighters were at a greater advantage before the pencil hit the paper. Would the ones who failed take the test again after getting all of the study materials and be promoted if they passed, over the firefighters who passed the first time? Test takers usually do better the second time around anyway, so they might pass simply because they took the test again. Would the firefighters who failed the test take the exam whenever the department is looking to promote more people? That means the minority firefighters would have to wait a period of time before they have the opportunity to be promoted after they failed a test due to factors outside their control. It’s a difficult situation, and I can’t think of a fair solution to it.
    Basically, affirmative action is implemented to make sure that groups that were discriminated against in employment and education don’t continue to get discriminated against. I’ll use the President’s Supreme Court nomination process as an example. His short list consisted of only women. All women were qualified for the position. Does that mean that no men were qualified? No. It just means that there have only been three women on the Supreme Court ever, so they’re a seriously misrepresented group, especially when more than half the country is female. The president set out to change this by nominating a woman. Let’s say Judge Sotomayor and Janet Napolitano were his final two choices. Napolitano is White, and Sotomayor is Latina. They’re both equally qualified, but there has never been a Latina/o on the Supreme Court, a population that makes up 13% of the country. There’s one thing that Sotomayor can do that Napolitano can’t do, and that’s make the Supreme Court more representative of the ethnic make-up of the country.

  39. davenj
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I hate quoting myself, but I said something of the sort in my post a few hours ago:
    “Will this make some Title VII cases harder? Yes. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No. It’ll make employers consider the potential bias of tests more carefully, as well as any disparate results that come up. What should happen is employers will be more aware of potentially damaging racial issues that they don’t bother to look for now, like unequal access to prep materials. Ultimately that should make employment practices better.”
    This decision makes Title VII discrimination a bigger issue because the same lawsuits that have been brought to bear in the past will be curtailed by employers who are more aware of different types of employment discrimination.
    New Haven deserved to lose this case. They made a decision that turned out to be somewhat right, but their methodology was wholly wrong. It was the metaphorical equivalent of throwing a racist dart at the board and luckily hitting the bullseye. It’s not something that should be repeated.
    This is not a loss for anti-discrimination laws. It subtly makes employers look for more mechanisms of discrimination than existed in the past, which will not only reduce disparate results, but also benefit job applicants in general by forcing employers to take more holistic views in regard to mechanisms of discrimination.
    Those who oppose this decision are being a penny wise and a dollar foolish. This decision is a good thing, both on the micro and macro level. It’s justice for the plaintiffs, who were unfairly discriminated against, and on the larger scale makes us look for how others may be discriminated against in ways we might not consider.

  40. Suzann
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that one of anything is not enough to prove anything.
    Math happens!
    Maybe it just happened here?
    (See the logic of cancer clusters)
    Before the city threw out the test – and got into this massive legal brangle – the logical thing IMO would be to give it again to a group of Firefighters of various races/sexes/whatever who have ALREADY shown the ability to work at whatever level of promotion the test was aimed at.
    If – in a group of say 100 already capable , demographically representative, Fire Captains from surrounding area the result once again skewed – then there is clearly something wrong with the test. (Racial or whatever does not matter – the flaw would be that it did not correctly select out Fire Captains.) If, on the other hand, existing Fire Captains all passed, or passed in an even ratio, then this one event was just the oddities of math.
    In the first case, trash the test and the results – for no other reason then that they are not accurate.
    In the second case, the city could keep using the test, because the next cycle of exams would logically skew differently.
    (Or, if the test still gave suspicious results, the problem could be looked for in the training, prep. or situation surrounding the test. That would mean the actually problem could be found and fixed – not just covered up by a bunch of politicians.)

  41. A male
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Those are important points for people to know before judging the results of the test and blaming the test itself.

  42. Pharaoh Katt
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to thank you for this comment. It addressed points I hadn’t considered before, and gave me a lot to think about.

  43. Stephanie
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    Why do little girls self select kitchen set toys and little boys self select trucks and guns? Just because a person might choose a specific toy/job/insert whatever here doesn’t mean that choose isn’t routed in a world of social normative and cultural forces. It doesn’t mean that it’s not racist or sexist, it just means that the racism and sexism we face is deeply routed and constantly internalized.

  44. Unequivocal
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Honeybee, Learn to read more.
    ***********
    I didn’t question her ability to read.
    Really? Really?
    I just don’t even know what to say. Are you doing this on purpose?

  45. cattrack2
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Has anyone ever considered the discriminatory impact the “legacy” system has at private universities. At most private colleges the children of alumnae are given extra points toward admission. In fact it tends to be the largest “bonus” in admission, far outweighing any points given for race/gender/etc.
    The ultimate impact of this is that discrimination becomes self-perpetuating, so that poorer, minority, or female students are less likely to get in. The hell of it is that its all legal.

  46. Unequivocal
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    I understand how this would obviously adversely effect poor or minority applicants, but how would it have an impact on female applicants?

  47. Steven
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Thank you for responding Daliah… Oh…
    Just because a person might choose a specific toy/job/insert whatever here doesn’t mean that choose isn’t routed in a world of social normative and cultural forces.
    That is a good textbook response.
    But it also seems to completely disregard any human capacity for free will as well as fails to acknowledge andynon-social reason a decision could be made.
    Just because there are social forces in play does not mean we (or more specifically, I) have to buy into social determinism hook like and sinker.

  48. kahri
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Absolutely! Rock on, ghostorchid.

  49. Daliah
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Of course all the factors need to be considered, but you seem to be disregarding the social, cultural environment that we live in entirely.
    Self-selection may occur based on other factors (and these are very interesting to explore), but i doesn’t mean that we don’t need to consider systemic pressures involved (ones that we could and should change).
    I feel like your response is an easy out of taking responsibility over the issues within our society- well women want to be doing all the housework, it’s not because they were raised that way, they are just self selecting.
    I don’t disagree with you that there is often a knee-jerk reaction, but it happens in both directions

  50. Arvilla
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Yeah, REALLY. Note that I said, learn to read MORE. Which insinuates she does know how to read but should learn to do it more often so she is more aware of these things. It’s clearly an argument about frequency. Not about ability.
    And note that she herself agreed it’s something she’d like to learn more about?

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