RALEIGH — The state of Washington has it. California has it. Michigan has it. Oklahoma has it. Nebraska has it. Arizona has it. Florida, New Hampshire, and Idaho have a version of it.
Within the next few years, North Carolina will have it, too: a legal prohibition against the use of race or sex as a factor in hiring public employees, awarding government contracts, or admitting students to universities. This will happen either through a U.S. Supreme Court decision, a law passed by the General Assembly, or a constitutional amendment approved by North Carolina voters.
It’s important for those in positions of power across our state to understand and accept this inevitability. I fear that they do not, that they are in for a rude awakening when their power to make decisions based on race or other extraneous characteristics will be irrevocably taken from them.
They interpret “affirmative action” to mean, for example, admitting black students with lower grades and test scores into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill instead of Asian students with higher grades and test scores. They interpret it to mean they can announce a racial, ethnic, or gender target when hiring employees or awarding contracts and then preferring some applicants over others in an attempt to meet that goal.
By their definition, however, affirmative action is unjust and unpopular. Very few people believe government should either discriminate or grant preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, or national identity.