Racism Cuts Both Ways

The reliance of standardized tests to determine someone’s intelligence or employment ability is likely one of the great downfalls of modern society. Just think about where Albert Einstein would have ended up if his entire career was going to be determined by his performance on a standardized test. Yet, the furor apparently over the Supreme Court decision to reverse an appellate decision has sparked some pretty racist remarks coming from someone who should know better.

“We can’t just sit still on this. This is a dangerous decision,” Curtis said. “The 5-4 decision was right down conservative/liberal lines. Sixty percent of the New Haven population is minority and the test was set up so no one else (other than whites) would be able to pass it.

Only “whites” could pass a test? That must have been some powerful skin color related test. I’m sure the Hispanics were confused, should they pass the test because they could be white, or join in with the minority population and fail the test? Maybe a few facts are in order, you know, most people kinda like them. According to the WIKI:

The racial makeup of the city is 63.46% White, 37.36% African American, 0.43% Native American, 1.90% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 10.89% from other races, and 3.91% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race were 9.39% of the population. Non-Hispanic whites made 75.57% of the population.

It seems confusing there doesn’t it? Whites, about which there is some uncertainty are either 63 or 75 percent of the population of the city of New Haven, which is about 124k. Can’ the WIKI make up its mind? Or maybe we’ve gotten to a point where it’s not so easy to figure out what someone’s race is these days because the idea of race is just so 1960s. Maybe, like our president, there’s a whole slew of people who consider themselves to be kinda like mutts and are looking to live their lives according to abilities not labels.

Now about that test. The WSJ published this editorial at the time of the Supreme Court hearing.

… when the Court hears argument in Ricci v. DeStefano. The issue in Ricci was simply stated by Judge José Cabranes, dissenting from a cursory, unenlightening opinion by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. “At its core,” he wrote, “this case presents a straight-forward question: May a municipal employer disregard the results of a qualifying examination, which was carefully constructed to ensure race-neutrality, on the ground that the results of that examination yielded too many qualified applicants of one race and not enough of another?”

The employer was the New Haven, Conn., fire department, which in 2003 had a number of vacancies for new lieutenants and captains. The department administered written and oral tests to candidates for these promotions, as required by state civil service provisions and city law. But the city’s civil service board refused to certify the results and no promotions were approved. Seventeen white candidates and one Hispanic candidate sued, charging a denial of their 14th Amendment rights, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other federal laws.

The board found the racially disparate results of the tests unacceptable. New Haven’s population is 37.4% black, but no African-American was among the top performers on either exam. The highest-scoring black candidate for a captaincy ranked 16th, behind 12 whites and three Latinos. On the lieutenant’s exam, the strongest black performers ranked 14th, 15th and 16th.

Oh but that’s the Wall Street Journal, they couldn’t possibly have anything but a conservative opinion bias. So here’s the NYT:

In 2003, Lieutenant Vargas was one of 56 people in the department who passed a test for promotion; 15 were black or Hispanic. When city officials discovered that only two of those were likely to be immediately promoted, they decided to throw out the test, citing concerns that minority candidates might again sue, alleging discrimination.

It’s that decision to throw out the test because of the threat of a law suit that the Supreme Court actually ruled on. In the decision Justice Kennedy wrote, “Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer’s reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions.” 

It is totally racist for Reverend Lindsay Curtis to state that only whites could pass the New Haven firefighter promotion test. In fact, blacks did pass the test. It is wrong for him to state that the minority population in New Haven is 60 percent when it is not. This is the kind of outrageous inflammatory rhetoric that perpetuates racism in America. 

source: The Hour, NAACP calls firefighter ruling ‘a dangerous decision’, By CHRIS BOSAK, 7/8/09

source: New York Times, Bias Suit a Test of Resolve for Hispanic Man, By A. G. SULZBERGER, 7/2/09

9 comments

  1. Mrs. Peacock

    Good morning, Turf. Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that the Firefighter “test” is one of several which is formulated into the hiring process. I think there are two written tests, along with the CPAT, which is a very grueling physical endurance assessment. Then there are the oral interviews. Considering the various aptitudes that are assessed, the written exam is not the sole evaluation tool for hiring firefighters.

  2. Strange

    And the test was designed by an outside consultant specifically to be race neutral and was requested by a liberal, multicultural, democrat administration lead by DeStafano.

    When Curtis talks like this he is a scary individual and one realizes he is not as fair as he sounds in person but at heart is just like Al Sharpton, a race baiter who use inflammatory rhetoric to ensure his base keeps him in a well paid gig with the NAACP. Of course Al does not live in lily white Wilton like Curtis does. Maybe if more of the firefighters had studied as hard as some of the successful applicants had they would have been promoted. Honest Call Turf! Watch out for the boycott or other counter attack.

  3. Anonymous

    How is a test set up so only a single race can pass it? Is curtis trying to say blacks are stupid because that is what it sounds like and that is very insulting me and to all blacks. Shame on you Curtis.

  4. OLD TIMER

    Nobody is ever completely happy with those kinds of tests, except the ones who come out high enough to be sure of promotion. For the New Haven Civil Service Board to toss the results because no black came out in that top tiny percentage was racist, not just cautious about a potential suit. If they knew the exam was prepared by outside experts to be non-biased, they should not have been afraid to defend it. For Curtis, or anyone, now to claim the test was racist and biased in favor of white firefighters is just plain wrong. I like Curtis, and admire the job he does, most of the time. In this case, I will bet he has not seen the test, nor the evidence presented in the original suit. Black firemen passed, but not quite high enough. The place to look for racisim is in the oral exam, not in the written exam. If Curtis ever gets a look at the complete test results, broken down into written scores, oral scores, and any other score weighed into the results, he may learn how far off he is. It is significant that none of the black candidates, nor the NAACP, sued because they felt the test was biased aginst blacks. The suit never claimed any problem with the exam, it complained the results were not implemented, and denied people well earned promotions.

  5. OLD TIMER

    Nobody is ever completely happy with those kinds of tests, except the ones who come out high enough to be sure of promotion. For the New Haven Civil Service Board to toss the results because no black came out in that top tiny percentage was racist, not just cautious about a potential suit. If they knew the exam was prepared by outside experts to be non-biased, they should not have been afraid to defend it. For Curtis, or anyone, now to claim the test was racist and biased in favor of white firefighters is just plain wrong. I like Curtis, and admire the job he does, most of the time. In this case, I will bet he has not seen the test, nor the evidence presented in the original suit. Black firemen passed, but not quite high enough. The place to look for racisim is in the oral exam, not in the written exam. If Curtis ever gets a look at the complete test results, broken down into written scores, oral scores, and any other score weighed into the results, he may learn how far off he is. It is significant that none of the black candidates, nor the NAACP, sued because they felt the test was biased aginst blacks. The suit never claimed any problem with the exam, it complained the results were not implemented, and denied people well earned promotions.

  6. Anonymous

    Well, if you look down at standardized tests at the elementary school level – Kendall School, which has the highest minority population in the city (by a significant margin!) is also one of only 2 in the city to make AYP under No Child Left Behind. If you get a good start, being a member of a minority shouldn’t have to mean you can’t score well on standardized tests. And there HAS to be a standard!

  7. OLD TIMER

    Arguments have been made, and experience seems to verify, the qualities you need in a supervisor at a fire are better measured by a different process. Justice Ginsberg wrote a thoughtful dissent, critical of the process in this case and of the department history of racial bias. While she may be right, the issue was racial discrimination in denying promotions to people who did well because they were white. She argues they were not discriminated against because nobody was promoted, and ruling against the City would penalize it for trying to avoid discrimination against minorities.
    The majority agreed they were discriminated against.

  8. anonymous

    Haven’t we all been going to the same schools all this time? Don’t we sit in the same classrooms and have the same teachers? Don’t we get the same textbooks to study from?