Monday, June 29, 2009

Acting White: Supreme Court New Haven Firefighting Decision

Yes, the Supreme Court got it right with respect to the New Haven firefighters. But let us be clear – Sotomayor, who fancies her own seat up yonder, did not do her judicial job when she upheld, minus an explanation or her signature, the City’s position on appeal. For all her tough up-from-the-Bronx reputation, she caved and made the old white guys make the final call. She may counter, quietly, that she almost executed a shrewd political move, but she got called out by her mentor, appellate judge Jose Cabranes. I guess that is what good mentors do, bust your ass when you slack, right out there in public for everyone, who cares, to see. She'll be OK.

The logic of the dissenting justices in the case shows us just how far we have to go, when they put forth the results of the test as evidence for the City, as defendant, even though reviews found no testing bias. Justice Ginsburg said the court should have assessed "the starkly disparate results" of the exams against the backdrop of historical and ongoing inequality in the New Haven fire department. So the question remains for America, just how long should blacks be given points simply for their skin color? If Rev. King were here today, I seriously doubt he could square Ginsberg’s attitude with his hope that we be judged, over 40 years later, on the content of our character alone.

See related post (here).

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

I think he behavior on the matter was shameful, that she couldn't make an opinion on the matter?
That she, a "wise latina woman that might make a better judgment than a white man" didn't have the wisdom to allow her to thoughtfully attack the issue.

I'd like for it to be considered also how it would have gone over if she had said a "wise latina woman that might make a better judgment than a" black man.

Whewww. The complaints of racial remarks from the conservatives would pale in comparison to the ones from certain member of the black community!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there was any kind of preparatory material, similar to, say, the SAT prep materials you can find in book stores, which the firefighters could have utilized as a way to get ready for the exam. If so, it seems to me that one would have to prove that the minority firefighters were in some way deprived of knowledge of their existence or denied access to them. Short of that, it would be very difficult to support Sotomayor's decision.

It will be interesting to see if this case is a reflection of the culture of "education inattentiveness" that began creeping into our way of thinking a few decades ago. If, as youngsters, we didn't feel it was hip to study and do well in high school, it's probably not a stretch to assume that this mindset would follow us into adulthood, resulting in a situation like this one, in which it might not be surprising to learn that, while fully capable of succeeding on the exam, the firefighters in question simply didn't prepare themselves for it by force of habit.

John said...

My understanding is that the firefighters who passed spent long hours studying; one, who is dyslexic, even paid a friend to tape record the material. But I'm not sure what materials were available and from who/where.

However, to my knowledge, no one complained that the test was biased. The city officials simply saw the results, feared a lawsuit, and invalidated the test.

John said...


A local activist (yet another "minister")threatened "political ramification" if those who passed the test were promoted.

Still, though, there was never any real concern that the test was unfair, only that there would be lawsuits.

In my area, a few years ago the federal Justice Dept. investigated after complaints of "discrimination" in police and fire depts. in three cities. It was a similar scenario, blacks were passing exams at a rate much lower than whites. The investigation found no evidence of discrimination, and found that the math portion of the exams was the problem. Somehow, the JD determined that discrimination must've occurred somewhere (apparently math is racist) and ordered payments to the "victims" and forced the departments to lower standards.

Anonymous said...

A recap:

District Court, a summary judgement for the defendents (based on existing law)

Circut Court, a summary judgement for the defendents (based on existing law)

Supreme Court, a summary judgement for the plantiffs (based on creating a new statutory law and ducking the underlying constitutional question)

Looking foolish:

Judge Jose A. Cabranes who wanted the U.S. Supeme Court to "grapple" with the questions of "constitutional claims at the core of this case,”

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was incredibly foolish for Cabranes to think that this milquetoast Supreme Court would actually have the courage to re-evaluate the constitutionality of Griggs and other other precedents that demand equality of outcomes.

James C. Collier said...

Dragonhorse: I certainly could be inhaling King fumes, but I like to think of him differently than the Sharpton/Jackson ilk. I believe he would be disappointed, if not downright embarrassed, by what blacks have not done with their hard-won opportunities, regardless of challenges/attitudes that remain. Black-on-black crime, out-of-wedlock births, HS drop-out rates, et al tell an overwhelming story of what blacks are doing to themselves. As a true leader, King would tell it like it is to blacks (I would hope), not like some want to hear it.

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...

"Black-on-black crime, out-of-wedlock births, HS drop-out rates, et al tell an overwhelming story of what blacks are doing to themselves. As a true leader, King would tell it like it is to blacks (I would hope), not like some want to hear it."

All this being said, most indicators, educational achievement (including college), income, level of political engagement, black representation in all levels of society have shown a positive upward trend. Now they may not be broad (to all classes in the community) or or as high as you would like but they still exist.

Also, what are you comparing black Americans to?

Please name me a population that has our history.

Brought to another continent as slaves where they will always be a visible minority. Freed from slavery to too often become second class citizens and even indendured servants. A people who were almost completely stripped of their cultural identities, religions, histories, etc.

I mean 600 years of English rule did not even do that to the Irish and although Jews were slaves several times they still had their Torah, they knew who they were, many still used Hebrew even if only for religious service, etc. Blacks were given and had enforced a culture that was designed to make a good dependent slave in most cases.

Taking all this in mind, what group of people who have an even remotely similar history are doing better?

I can't even think of a people who have went through this that exist. The closest I can think of are Gypsies and last I read they live very poorly in Central and Eastern Europe.

The blacks in Latin America, were mostly absorbed but still face extreme "colorism" and are not doing better in most situations, although they tend to have better family units, they are far poorer on average, less educated, etc.

So what exactly do you expect from black folks and what is this based on? Who is your model for determining who is not doing what well enough in 40 years?

Who does King need to "tell it to"?

Most of these blacks you speak about I don't even know and I've been black all my life and associate with blacks. You are speaking about a minority within a minority, the underclass and since when does a minority speak for the majority?

WOuld you judge Samuel Alito by those Gitto wannabe gangsters on Staten Island? If you go to the UK, do you judge the Englishman by the "lad culture" of the British lower class?

WHy does King need to talk to "blacks". Does the Prime Minister of the UK need to sit down with "Scots"? Last time I checked Glasgow was mostly slum and it ain't immigrants committing the crimes and shooting the drugs...

Methinks you would not think this way in regard to others, I could be wrong. It seems you have a very very high standard for black folks. I just can't figure out the source.

James C. Collier said...

DH: I do have high standards for blacks, based upon capabilities I have witnessed. The hind legs must keep up with the front legs (and vice versa) for the pup to run its fastest. I think the unwavering focus on education is the answer. It overcomes all challenges, and is independent of the self-ish interest of others.

Anonymous said...

I'll visit with you on this one to second DH.

You posit a meter that has not, and never will be applied to any other group in America James. There are a large group of "white trash" in America who form a semi-permanent underclass with ALL of the symptom you suggest somehow are black America's alone. Inferring that somehow, black progress should be measured by the progress of it's extremes - and not the middle class is inherently faulty, and intellectual flim-flam at it's most base.

Indeed, such is the lowest form of sophistry, picking the dull knife from the drawer to prove the steak is tough.

James C. Collier said...

btx3: First and last warning on 'wt', not welcome here. That said, we can argue all night the uniqueness of the black experience, but until guilt/pennance responses moves any group off the bottom (which it has not), it's futile. It's a matter of where to focus for the greatest impact, on the dollar I did not get or the hard-earned nickels wasting in my pocket.

Anonymous said...

I read Dragon Horse and btx above, and it just comes off as "waaah, waaah, poor little me!"

You're looking to excuse your own failures while the entire country is bending over backwards to help you succeed. You're biting the hand that feeds you.

You think that no one is more disadvantaged than American blacks? How about blacks in Africa? They are starving to death, living in squalor, and killing each other for scraps. Would you trade places with them? Don't you think that they would gladly trade places with you?

No, you're not the sad-sack pity case that you seem to think you are. In fact, as a black in America, you're one of the luckiest people in the world.

You're acting like the little girls on My Super Sweet 16. You're outraged that you have to drive a Chevy instead of a Porsche. You're furious that you live in an apartment rather than a McMansion. You toil angrily at your $40,000-a-year job with a profound jealousy for the higher-ups.

No wonder the African immigrants who come here in search of a better life want nothing to do with African-Americans.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @4:05P.M.:

You are out of you mind and your league. Back off and let these men have this discourse.

Everything you've said is so typical it reeks of innuendo.

Free James C. Collier!

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...

"You're looking to excuse your own failures while the entire country is bending over backwards to help you succeed. You're biting the hand that feeds you."


You are exactly what I am speaking of...the fact you judge blacks by their lowest common denominator.

I do not and have never drove a Chevy. I have a master's degree, work for one of the largest arms contractors in the world, am married, own my own home in one of the most expensive countries in America (Fairfax County, VA), and I've been to more than 10 countries in my short 32 years. Give me a break.

No one is whining. People are asking for realistic criteria to judge a group of nearly 40 million very diverse people by.

When you judge Lindsay Lohan by her kin-folk in Appalachia and South Boston the way you try to group me with the ghetto then I will take you remotely seriously.

Anonymous said...

"People are asking for realistic criteria to judge a group of nearly 40 million very diverse people by."

Unfortunately you don't offer an answer to your own question.

In the case of the firefighters what do you think would be "fair"?

If no whites has passed and many blacks did would you then think they deserved another test that would allow more of them to succeed or would you be grinning from ear to ear about how the dumb white men couldn't pass a simple test?

If the exact reverse had been the case and black firefighters had been denied a promotion even though passing the required test the volume from the Jackson/Sharpton crew would have been deafening but since it is not that way the white guys shouldn't get promoted and the test needs to be made somehow more "fair" so more blacks can pass.

I am glad my definition of fair is not like yours.

Also you complain about the differences in racial success but yet you seem quite successful.
Were you allowed a free ride or a simpler test to get there?

I didn't think so so why should anyone regardless of race be allowed to slide by for less effort...

Anonymous said...

Who's judging who? There's the test, there's the material, so work hard and score well.

What's wrong with really believing that the only difference in black and white is color? That is what NOT being a racist is about isn't it?

Apparently you have judged the black firefighters as incapable of working hard enough to pass that test with a score the merits a promotion.

I am sure they feel much better about themselves knowing their "brothers" have such a high opinion of their abilities....

It's sad when the very people that claim to want fairness and equality for their race are the same ones dragging their race down instead of believing in them and giving much needed encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Why criticize Sotomayor when the "old white guys" (plus 1 black guy) failed to "make the final call"?

The Constitutional issue "between disparate impact and equal protection" will be met at another time (presumedly when Sotomayor is on the bench)

Anonymous said...

"No one is whining. People are asking for realistic criteria to judge a group of nearly 40 million very diverse people by."

How about a fair criterion to judge, say, a couple dozen people on, where blacks and whites are given the exact same test and are judged objectively?

Apparently that's not good enough for you. Because, you know, your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was a slave.

Rajiv said...

Most people of all colors are getting tired of special preference government programs for particular groups.

Time to get past the 1960s and 1970s and start treating individuals as people despite the color. Make them earn their promotions, their hires, their admissions, their contracts.

That would be quite a change. Let's just hope.

Anonymous said...

It will probably take another 10 to 20 years before discussions such as these begin to dissipate. We are witnessing a transition period between when the yoke of oppression was really on us and the present period of greater access to opportunities for advancement and better societal inclusion.

When a preponderance of the people begin to understand how to navigate their way through this more inclusive environment, even those who come from severely depressed backgrounds, frustration levels, which are often signs that individuals were unaware of/didn't think of alternate ways to achieve their dreams, will come down considerably. To give an example, we all know that public schools in our inner cities leave a lot to be desired. Parents in these settings often don't consider what they can do at home to enhance the probability that their child can emerge from such an inherently challenging environment with a decent shot at higher education. Spending time with our kids, coaching them through their homework, going to a public library and bringing books home for our children to read, paying attention to how they speak, dress and behave are all reasonably achievable ways to get them on the right path. These sound like "yeah-sure" kind of things, but they shouldn't be dismissed. Weaving little acts of discipline into your child's daily routine can pay big dividends for him/her as they grow older and take those habits with them.

As common sense and critical-thinking skills are nurtured into our young people, they will see a hurdle where others see a wall; they will learn how to be overcomers and not resigned to a hopeless future. One by one, children who are brought up this way will see opportunity where others saw despair.

Yes, there's still much that society as a collective can do to alleviate a lot of the depressed conditions and disparities that exist out there, but we need to also learn how to more constructively apply effort in those areas of life over which we have control.


Hey there!

If the tests was NOT used in the past to determine promotion eligibility then NOT using the test scores when black fire fighters are up for promotion is not reverse discrimination...

How do we know if test scores were DISCOUNTED in the past in determining promotions among white fire fighters -- prior to blacks being hired?

No one is asking how promotions were determined prior to blacks being hired... that is where I think Sotomayor can be defended...

If there WERE instances were test scores were thrown out when promotions were decided among white employees ....when they throw them out when blacks are in the running it's HARDLY reverse discrimination...

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:34 very good post. I agree that it takes good parents or at least one good parent to get kids on the right track.

Unfortunately we see more and more in all walks of life, both black and white, that it is a rare thing to have the parents you describe.

I really hope that can change.

Anonymous said...

As an Italian living in Italy I was pointed the news from an Italian friend living in the USA.
I find the US obsession about race ridicule and the crying of the blacks (mainly their leaders) childish.
In Italy we have a quota system for jobs (for large enterprise or public works) but it is reserved for the handicapped ones (or, like the like to call them now, differently able).
Now, I think the only reason to support a quota system or an affirmative action, is to claim that blacks are handicapped. Not enough skilled, not enough intelligent or without enough will.

I, also, find the claims of racism empty and unsupported. How is that Asians are so more successful and wealthier than the Negroes. They had only few decades to adapt and climb the ladder in the US but they succeed anyway.

Even Negroes coming from abroad are doing better then blacks born in the US. They are less infantilized by the politically correct left. Colin Powel descend from black slaves of the Caribbenas. The slaves from the Caribbeans were treated worse than the slaves in the US (their death rates was greater). The black slaves imported in Arabs countries in the same period of the US black slaves had not leaved any genetic trace in the M.E. Do you know why?
They were worked out until they died and many where castrated by their masters. So, please stop complaining that life is unjust with you.
For your information, Muslim slavers attacked all the Europe coasts until 1820. The European coasts of the Mediterranean Sea were depopulated. Million of people enslaved and sold in M.E. slave market. They attacked and enslaved people from Ukraine to Sicily, Spain, England and Iceland.