Blacks Want Affirmative Opportunity

Published September 7, 2004

Dear Editor:

Dan Seligman (“Quota? What’s That?” September 6) argues “you are expected to select on merit but also produce some neat racial balance in the hiring or admission pool. Your employer, that is, wants to have both ways. How do you cope?”

The thinking behind this assertion is one of many stumbling blocks placed in the way of blacks and other minorities. Race by itself has no bearing on intelligence level. It is a myth that personnel directors and college admission offices cannot select on merit and produce a quality pool of talent that includes minorities.

Is it possible to have a qualified pool of candidates that is also diverse? The short answer is yes! It’s simply the opposite of past omissions. Affirmative opportunity–and I use the word “opportunity” rather than “action” because the former correctly evokes the spirit of the Declaration of Independence–is not a crutch nor a privilege for minorities. It is just first-class citizenship.

Why do we still act as if educating or hiring minorities or hiring from low-income families has never been successfully achieved?

Lee Walker
Chicago, Illinois

Lee Walker ([email protected]) is president of The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change.