Beyond the rhetoric: Why is there still discrimination?

Filed under OPINION

00-haroldalfordI was being interviewed by two French citizens whose mission is to end discrimination in France.

Their mission is very difficult because it is illegal to denote one’s race on any form or application.

Race does not appear in the French census and to actually keep a count by race is a felony. The Catch 22 is that you cannot justify or document a charge of discrimination.  You may know it is there but how can you prove it?

Racial counts the norm in America
I started explaining to them how deeply demographics are followed in our society. We do racial counts on just about everything.  We have offices per the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 11246 that count and analyze demographics and are able to detect disparate impact or discrimination.  Those companies or organizations that discriminate should be sanctioned and forced to change their ways.  But when she asked: “So why is there still discrimination?”

I thought to myself there surely remains discrimination in our society even though we have all of these safeguards.  My conclusion and response to her: “We really don’t enforce it as we should.”  That is the cold truth and the tragedy of our society today.

Discrimination is, in fact, just about everywhere in America such as our education, employment, promotion and hiring, housing, lending, healthcare, etc.  Every rung on our economic ladder eludes Blacks except the bottom rung.

As I admonish our South American countries for having their Blacks on the lowest rung of their economic ladder, I better turn around and note our state of affairs.  We have more money than their Blacks but it is all relative.  Whether it is England or the United States where data is king or France where the Black demographic is invisible, it just doesn’t matter.

Disparities across the board
We spend an exorbitant amount of time and money on the issue but still, there is no change.  Every federal agency and state administration has an Office of Civil Rights.

Most have a minority business office to ensure against disparity in contracting. Yet, there isn’t a state agency or federal agency that can boast more than 4 percent consistent Black business participation anywhere in this nation.

We have disparity studies performed every five years for our states and major cities.  This is prescribed by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  From one disparity study to an update to another update the fact remains:  the disparity or indication of discrimination still exists.  We do nothing to address the problem – discrimination.  We know how to “sniff” out the discrimination; how to point the finger and supposedly how to remedy it.  But the remedy never comes.  Wow, we are so patient.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

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