Paul R. Lehman, Proposed ban on affirmative action alive in Oklahoma

November 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, whites | 2 Comments
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Some Oklahomans might be surprised to learn that the battle
to ban affirmative action in Oklahoma is alive and well. As a matter of fact,
the effort to ban it comes in the form of State Question 759, and is expected
to be on the 2012 ballot. The reasons for introducing SQ 759 vary with
different individuals and their interpretations of affirmative action.

The Oklahoman (11/6/11)
reported that Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, D-Tulsa, believes the state question is
to be used “as a ‘push-button issue’ so Republicans can get their base to the
polls.” In essence, she sees it as a tactic to increase voter participation for
Republicans who believe that affirmative action works against them in some way.
If the state question strikes an emotional nerve, then people will come out in
large numbers to express their concerns. McIntyre adds that these Republican
voters will get “nothing out of the deal as it relates to health care,
education and job opportunities. There are people that need it. All you have to
do is look at the social indicators. We are dead last. This will in no way
create help for the poor or working people.”

The sponsor of SQ 759 is Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma, who
believes that “the measure will remove any kind of racial or gender component
to preferences given to people whether they are black or American Indian.”
Shortey says that Oklahoma is generally perceived as a state with racial
biases, “and we don’t need that.” He, evidently, thinks that affirmative action
is unfair because  “Contracts and jobs
should be based on qualifications, not race or gender.” Finally, Shortey says
of SQ 759 that “It is a statement to the rest of the world we [Oklahomans] are
becoming more color blind in this state.”

What seems obvious to many Oklahomans is the fact that the
issue of affirmation action can always be reintroduced by some politicians to
try and create an emotional response from other people who have no idea of what
affirmation action is or why it is part of our law in the first place. The only
parts of affirmative action that the opponents seem interested in deal with
what they think is unfair to them, not what is seen as an opportunity for
people who have been deprived of opportunities for hundreds of years. Some
politicians want people to believe that providing opportunities for jobs,
education and health care for minority ethnic Americans and women, who had been
locked out of these systems for several hundred years, is actually depriving the
people who have been enjoying these privileges all along of something.

The people who oppose affirmative action have no sense of
reality, history, or democracy; they have a restricted view of American society
that includes them only receiving liberties, privileges and freedom, and all
this because of their complexion or identity—white and male. Sen. McIntyre is
correct in directing attention to the social indicators for proof that
affirmative action is still an essential element of fairness in our state and
society. The idea that three hundred years of prejudice, segregation and discrimination
that included special treatment for European Americans, can be overcome in less
than fifty years is plainly not dealing with reality. To foster that belief in
view of all the data to the contrary indicates not only a bias, but also an
unwillingness to accept the principles of our democratic society.

The excuse used by Sen. Shortey that getting rid of
affirmative action will make us a “more color blind” state is bogus. What is
presently helping to make us a color blind state? We know for certain that
affirmative action has helped the state provide more opportunities for ethnic
minorities and woman, but what is the state doing independently to promote
color blindness? Shortey is spitting in the wind if he thinks we will accept
his statement without facts to support it. As this writer stated in previous
blogs, being color blind is a medical condition that involves the eyes. For
someone to used color blindness in a social context suggests observing skin
complexions and by extension, ethnicity.
In essence, being color blind in a social context suggests that a person
is not valued based on his or her complexion. That is not and cannot be the
case in Oklahoma or society in general because one has to see color in order to
make the determination of color blindness. One has to see color in order to
make a value assessment.

So, Sen. Shortey’s argument on affirmative action being
banned making the state more color blind is pure hogwash. He is catering to
people who are innocent, ignorant or biased in order to create an emotional
issue, an issue they believe takes something away from them unfairly. What
Shorty does understand is that by banning affirmative action the state would be
free to ignore the opportunities of some of it citizens by simply instituting “qualifications.”

If Sen. Shortey is really serious about making Oklahoma a “more
color blind” state, he can begin by introducing a state question eliminating
color as a form of ethnic identity. If he were to introduce such a state
question, it would insure that the colors black and white could never be use
for special privileges or preferences. By the way, affirmative action never
makes reference to color or ethnicity; its intent is to be inclusive, not



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  1. Yuck, is all I have to say.

  2. Very well put. Classic example of when the rules are fair but the game isn’t. The best analogy I’ve heard of this is the monopoly game where a couple of players are continually added after several rounds have already been played. By the time the final players are allowed to participate all of the property is gone and the players from the earliest rounds are in total control. The new players have no chance of catching up let alone winning. The rules are the same, but the game isn’t fair.

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