Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
by La Shawn Barber
In Ricci v. DeStefano, over a dozen white firefighters and one Hispanic scored high enough on a promotion exam to qualify for promotions. Because no blacks scored high enough to qualify, however, the city threw out everyone’s test results for fear of disparate impact lawsuits. The U.S. Supreme Court called foul and said the move was unconstitutional.
After the firefighters requested their promotions, a group of black firefighters tried to block them. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, they contended, they still had the right to challenge the test’s validity. Eventually, the qualified firefighters were promoted.
In a separate suit, a black firefighter in
Last week, a federal judge dismissed Biscoe’s suit. The court hasn’t released the opinion yet.
Try to understand what Briscoe and others who sue for disparate impact are saying. Look beyond the superficial surface-level discrimination claim and see the real claim. When blacks who earn lower scores on civil service exams sue under disparate impact, they’re implying that blacks can’t or shouldn’t be expected to compete with whites on pencil-and-paper civil service tests. Not the LSAT or the MCAT, but civil service tests. They are broadcasting a belief that they’re inferior. They are telling the world it’s discriminatory to even expect them to read and write well.
In our backward, PC world, requiring every applicant for a firefighter’s job and candidate for promotion to take an objective hiring or promotion exam, regardless of race, is suspect. The government used to do the opposite and make subjective, race-based judgments about who to hire and promote. The civil service exam was designed to end this practice. Now, such exams are perceived as tools of discrimination. And people go to court and publicly make the claim!
Some blacks pay lip service to equal treatment, expressing the desire to be seen and judged as an individual instead of “black person,” but in practice, they seem to abhor it. How sad. It takes courage to be free.