| March 9, 2011

Not by the color of their skin

The state Senate yesterday approved a joint resolution which would allow Oklahoma voters to approve an amendment prohibiting discrimination and preferential treatment in state government. Specifically, SJR 15 says: “The state shall not grant preferential treatment to, or discriminate against, any individual or group on the basis of race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.”

The time is right for such a measure. “I have a dream,” Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Unfortunately, over time some laws and public policies—under the guise of “affirmative action” and “equal protection”—have expanded and evolved in such a way that they judge people by the color of their skin. In other words, these laws and policies promote discrimination. They also provide an unnecessary cost to state and local governments. As a former state employee in Oklahoma, I personally have witnessed the bureaucratic and burdensome review of things like affirmative-action “goals and timetables,” increased costs to comply with having to advertise employment opportunities in publications targeted for only certain races, and the outright “hand-holding” throughout the career development and job interview process targeted to specific races.

These sorts of provisions—whether in Oklahoma state government, universities, or municipal government—have no place in a nation where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I am a blessed citizen of the United States of America who happens to be black. My life has been successful as a direct result of being raised in a two-parent home where my mother and father didn’t dwell on race but simply taught me that if I will take responsibility for my actions and work hard I can achieve the American Dream.

Let’s hope that individuals, families, communities, and the state use this proposed amendment as a springboard to encourage individual initiative and responsibility, and not to judge people by the color of their skin.

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