In a recent interview, Vulcan Society President John Coombs brought up the “communication barrier” as a reason why the FDNY should hire...more black firefighters?!
Let’s be a little more specific here.
Non-Latino blacks have the lowest rate of bi-lingualism in New York City. So, how exactly, would hiring more black firefighters address the purported “communication barrier,” in anything but a negative way?
Moreover, and this can’t be stressed enough, non-Latino blacks are the MOST OVER-represented ethnic group in NYC’s Municipal workforce. According to a recent article in City Limits (http://www.citylimits.org/news/articles/4038/the-whitest-city-agencies), non-Latino blacks comprise 23% of New York City’s population but 38% of its Municipal workforce! That means that non-Latino blacks are the ONLY ethnic group in NYC to be OVER-represented by more than 10% their numbers in the city’s population!
Ironically enough, Hispanics and Asians (a group NOT considered a “minority” in judge Garaufis’ ruling) are both UNDER-represented in NYC’s workforce in relation to their numbers in the city’s population!
Merit Matters supports outreach and inclusion of ALL ethncities, so long as merit and standards are maintained, just as it supports the idea of new immigrants assimilating into American society and learning English – “the language of commerce and opportunity in America.” New York City's Emergency Services positions (FDNY, NYPD, etc.) all require a valid NY State driver's license and a H.S. diploma or GED that would appear to indicate a fluency in English.
Merit Matters does NOT support the ridiculous idea that “minority groups are inter-changeable,” that a non-Latino black = a Hispanic, which = an Asian. Merit Matters supports individualism and looking at both individuals and various ethnic groups as individually distinct from each other.
Merit Matters OPPOSES proportionalism (counting by race/ethnicity and mandating what workforces look like), while acknowledging that outreach and recruitment is a useful tool for EVERY New York City agency. There are at least 6 other New York City agencies that are more racially imbalanced than the FDNY. Ideally EVERY New York City agency should reflect the city's ethnic diversity but NOT at the expense of merit and standards.