Letters to the Editor

on abolishing racial classification

Date: Sat, November 9, 2002 6:49 am
From: Eli Rothblatt
Subject: on abolishing racial classification

Dear Mr. Landrith,

I applaud your trailblazing work for the multiracial community. As someone with biracial black, white and jewish ancestry, I often felt pressured to just identify as black. I think this was reinforced by being told I could only check one box on forms, and the idea that I might not benefit as much from affirmative action/equal opportunity programs if I didn’t say I was Black. But now that I’m discovering the large and growing mixed race community, I like the idea of being able to check multiple boxes. Also, I strongly support affirmative action. I just think we should be able to qualify for affirmative action if we are mixed wiith an underrepresented ethnicity: after all, mixed race people have been discriminated against and denied opportunities as much as blacks, whites, and hispanics. I hope the multiracial activist will take a pro-affirmative action stance. I know that I and many other mixed race individuals have benefitted from these inclusive programs: I just think we should be able to qualify on our own merits, rather than by saying we are black or hispanic.


Eli Rothblatt

One comment

  1. Date: Sat, January 4, 2003 1:23 am
    From: George Winkel
    Subject: A defense of affirmative action not

    Reader Eli Rothblatt, wrote (date: Sat, November 9, 2002) warmly complementing, supporting editor James Landrith for his work toward abolishing racial classification. This was good. I agree.

    Mr. Rothblatt introduced himself as a multiracial person. Then he then wrote some lines defending affirmative action, concluding with this remarkable declaration:”I know that I and many other mixed race individuals have benefitted from these inclusive programs: I just think we should be able to qualify on our own merits, rather than by saying we are black or hispanic.”My sincerest respects to Mr. Rothblatt, but doesn’t he see the internal contradiction in his own endorsement above? More than that, does he not see his own last sentence, “I just think we should be able to qualify on our own merits, rather than by saying we are black or hispanic,” succinctly states the most powerful case against the whole affirmative action program?

    How much of the good, courageous work of the Martin Luther King era civil rights movement has been undone by affirmative action alone? That bygone MLK civil rights movement for racial integration (clearly a term synonymous with “assimilation,” & “amalgamation”) abolished Jim Crow segregation. Segregation was a system of laws and customs authorized by the United States Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896). Plessy, for 58 years until it was overturned (see Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, (1954)), held that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution did not invalidate any act segregating “blacks” or “colored” from the “white” people. Although the Plessy opinion spoke of “equal” segregated accommodations for “blacks,” the tenor of the majority opinion clearly reflected the prejudiced, racist view then widely held that “the negro” was “altogether unfit to associate with the white race.” (Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 407 (1856).) Segregation amounted in fact to quarantining “black blood” as if an hereditary disease to be kept out of the “white” gene pool. The whole meaning of plural human races, then as now, meant “different race.” If Mr. Rothblatt learned in school to subtract, then he should know that “different” does not mean the same thing as “equal.” In all of the history of plural human “races” as far back as the late seventeenth century, when colonial legislatures invented a national origins “color line” for dividing “white” slave owners from their “negro” (black) chattel slaves, the plural “races” have meant that the “white” are the real people; the “black” are only an inferior human “subspecies.”

    The civil rights movement associated today with MLK’s name thoroughly demolished the Jim Crow system of racial segregation, by 1965. Had organized civil rights activism stopped with that victory, the natural, biological equality of peoples with African ancestry would have sooner brought about their social equality – because all men are created equal! The human race is one continuous species. That is all that is needed for human equality to be had by laws of Nature as inexorable as water seeking its own level. The only thing able to hold back Nature’s equalizing gravitational flow toward human species unity is false laws. Only false laws like the former Jim Crow segregation laws and the ongoing affirmative action class of laws today, which Mr. Rothblatt and so many other people support, are able to prop up the plural “races” delusion of “inequality.” Only this and the pernicious law-engendered belief in the existence of “different,” plural human “races” holds our human nature at bay in artificial, but nonetheless cruel and all-too-real, racial inequality.

    I hope Mr. Rothblatt will think again, and realize that true social equality is a statement of respect. Real respect does not issue from government or G.I. tubes of toothpaste. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) there is no easy avenue to respect for academic and professional accomplishment, or for any other level of social esteem in our lives. It has to all be earned. Unearned affirmative action moneys buy only plastic facades. The implied “need” of “minorities” for affirmative action subsidy declares them unequal more loudly than the old Jim Crow segregation laws did. Affirmative action says that Mr. Rothblatt with his “drop” of “black blood,” cannot rise to a “white” level on his own steam. He needs to be jacked up to appear artificially there on the same “level playing field,” by affirmative outside government action. Otherwise, he is unable to rise to such a “white” level on his own merit.

    There is no way to receive affirmative action benefit without its cloud of doubt that it casts on anyone’s reputation for individual merit.

    Affirmative action is promoted as an antidote to present racism, as compensation for past racism, or both. It depends on the tacit assumption that the plural “races” are real divisions in the human species biome. Moreover, what is racism if it is not disrespect? What sort of respect can overcome disrespect that is not respect fully earned for its overcoming such resistance? I believe the only government antidote for racism is abolishing the plural “races” fallacy. After dividing into male and female, the human race has no divisions in it. “Subspecies” is a meaningless word the same as its synonym “race” is a meaningless word. Affirmative action and like-minded government policies aimed at combating racism are misdirected campaigns against Mother Nature, which needs no government help finding her own levels. The true enemy here is the false taxonomy of plural human “races” which the government also created. The plural “races” are false entities in the law today just as they continuously have been, ever since Virginia colony enacted certain legislation in 1662 dividing the racial status of “white” mens’ children essentially by their “color.”WHEREAS some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted . . . that all children borne in this country shal be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother . . . .(2 LAWS of Va. 170 (Hening 1823), cited in Wadlington, The Loving Case: Virginia’s Anti-miscegenation Statute in Historical Perspective, 52 Virginia Law Review 1189, 1191 (1966), original italics and ellipses.) We are still battling this partus sequitur ventrum (Latin, common law doctrine establishing ownership of animals born in captivity) insinuation today!

    George Winkel

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