Monday, June 29, 2009


I'll probably be on the wrong side of the fence with my liberal friends but I agree with the Supreme Court decision on the Connecticut Firemen. Before anyone leaps to the conclusion that I condone discrimination against minorities, I don't. I'm a firm beliver in civil rights and I believe the laws against discrimination were, and still are, needed. OTOH they can be carried too far.

As an illustration I'll relate an incident from my own past. After I graduated from college I intended to teach art in the public school system but I graduated just as the state universities produced a glut of teachers and I found myself searching for a non-existent job. At one point I ran onto an SBA (Small Business Administration) brochure that was promoting small business loans to individuals who had skills they could turn into a business but had resources too small to support themselves much less get a traditional loan. That was me at the time.

Per instructions in the brochure I went to my local bank and asked to speak to the loan officer who handled SBA backed loans . The loan officer listened to my proposal but said he'd never heard of this program. I showed him the brochure and he promptly called the SBA and asked about it. After a conversation with several "Uh-huh"'s and a "No" he said "Thank you" and hung up the phone. He then told me that although there was such a program and I met all the qualifications that the brochure listed, he couldn't help me because I lacked one qualification that was not in the brochure, I wasn't black.

I didn't sue. I had no money to get a lawyer and at that time, almost 40 years ago, it probably wouldn't have gone anywhere in the courts anyway. After three and half years of temporary minimum wage jobs interspersed with periods of unemployment and food stamps I finally found a steady job that I didn't like but felt lucky to get so I stuck with it until retirement 30 years later. Because of my experience though I sympathize with those firemen. If the city couldn't show that the test was actually discriminatory against minorities, those who passed should have gotten the jobs. Discrimination is discrimination no matter who it is against.

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie7:40 AM

    I find it interesting that loans, classes and other resources can be restricted to minorities only and not be considered discriminatory.
    Imagine "whites only" loans, jobs that are targeted for whites, etc. There would be a huge blow up. And I've heard the "leg up" theory- that minorities were disadvantaged and the playing field was not level (which is true). But should people need special assistance for forty odd years (or more) before they just have to go it on their own? When (if ever) does it stop?