Opinion: Race continues to pose challenges to American system

When should race be considered when making a decision?

How about almost never?

Read the Declaration of Independence and the vision it sets out for America. Granted, that vision is a work in progress.  But we have made great progress toward liberty, justice, equality and opportunity for all.

Yet, there is still lots more progress to be made.  One relevant and persistent question is:  what role, if any, should race play?  When should race be a factor?

I submit that when matters of competence are key, race should never be a factor.  Admissions to colleges and universities, granting of legal and medical licenses, and even the granting of drivers’ licenses, should never take race into account.  So long as there are objective, verifiable, and functional requirements, race simply should not be a factor.

Is it ever acceptable to take race into account?  That’s a tricky question, and subject to all kinds of slippery slopes. If and when it can be determined that race was a factor in diminution, i.e., used to deny someone something or otherwise hold them back, then at that point it seems reasonable that in finding a remedy or determining compensation, then race would have to be taken into account.

Not, however, as an ongoing factor, but rather on a case-by-case basis.

Following this line of reasoning, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, creed, and religion can and should be treated the same as race, i.e., they should not be counted in making decisions that should be competence based.

The latest public policy decision for the military is a good example of this type of thinking.  We used to deny women the ability to even compete for certain positions in the military.  “G.I Jane,” the movie, should have convinced us otherwise a long time ago.  Women should be allowed to compete, and if they succeed, they should be treated the same as men.

For too long, majority insensitivities have resulted in us as Americans not doing a good enough job in fulfilling our founders’ vision for America.  And in reaction to that, for too long various groups have given voice to the idea that they needed special treatment in order to be treated fairly.

We need to shed our collective guilt, as well as our historic insensitivities, and commit to treating individuals fairly and equally, based on observable facts and competencies only.

And that means that race and other differences should not generally be acceptable as deciding factors.  Our laws and practices should prohibit discrimination against anyone based on identifiable group membership or distinguishing characteristics only, just as they should also prohibit special preference or treatment based on those same criteria.


Mr. Greco is a Scottsdale resident.

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