“Racial Balance” Programs: The New Racism
Earlier this month the Supreme Court heard arguments by two public school boards seeking its sanction of “racial balance” programs. If upheld, the boards will possess the power to shuffle around students of various racial backgrounds in order to forcibly “integrate” them and create a “diverse community.”
But what the boards are advocating is itself racism. As Ayn Rand wrote, racism is “the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced by his internal body chemistry, which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.” It means placing the group’s standing above the individual’s, valuing the arbitrary (a man’s ancestry) over the essential (his own character or ability.) Judging individuals by their race is evil no matter what incarnation it takes.
Until the late 20th century, of course, some states had segregated schools. Blacks were denied access to the best available public schools and relegated to “colored” institutions. This was a monstrous injustice. It mattered not how intelligent or talented a student was, it mattered not where he lived or what his study interests were--he had black skin.
In the supposed name of correcting this wrong, today’s public school boards claim the need for “racial balance” programs. Instead of dismissing race as irrelevant, the boards claim that a racially diverse school is a value, worth forcing upon its constituents. To promote this so-called value, they foist a new straightjacket that potentially holds back bright students because of their race. They insist on branding a student by his skin color and dictating what school he will attend. They insist on enforcing quotas and counting students like barnyard stock. They insist on creating a new kind of injustice—a new kind of racism—in the name of eliminating the old.
How do we actually correct the injustice of segregation? By insisting on a truly color-blind society, wherein an individual’s qualifications are determined only by his actions, abilities and potential. By decisively rejecting the claim that members of a racial group (who have nothing in common but a physiological attribute) are interchangeable. And by denouncing “diversity” as an anti-value—and as the new racism.
A private school, such as the Kamehameha School—which recently won its federal court appeal upholding its right to restrict admission to native Hawaiian students—is free to adopt a racist and collectivist mission if it wishes. We have no right to interfere. But when a public school board, a government agency, arbitrarily treats some of its citizens differently, it creates a horrendous injustice. The Supreme Court exists to protect Americans from such abuses of governmental power. Just as one would not allow a public school board to make decisions based on a student’s shoe size, so it should not be allowed to do so based on race. Let’s hope the Justices recognize this.#
Debi Ghate is Vice-President of Academic Programs at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif.