At a recent panel discussion at the Harvard Law School, “Race Still Relevant,” Theodore Shaw, the general counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, commented, again (see here), that counting, classifying, assigning burdens and benefits, etc., by race is the sine qua non of all that is good and that whining “white folks” are the obstacle to be overcome.
What is at stake is the ability of our country, or anybody in our country, to voluntarily and consciously do anything about racial inequality. Anything that is race-conscious, they equate with racism, so all of the massive inequality is beyond the law, because addressing it becomes racist discrimination against white folks.
So, nobody can “do anything” to foster racial equality without being “race-conscious.” Literally, of course, this is true; it is impossible to be concerned about race without being conscious of race. But Shaw doesn’t really mean “race-conscious,” which has become one of the favorite euphemisms of the preferentialists. What he means is distributing all burdens and all benefits based on race.
Nor is it true that critics of race preferences equate them all with “racism,” another highly misused term. A policy can be discriminatory without being racist.
These days, when civil rights leaders speaks of “inequality,” they are no longer speaking of racial discrimination, of unequal treatment. They are speaking of minorities having less of something they want more of.
If Rosa Parks had taken this attitude, she would not have demanded equal treatment but rather that from now on (or maybe just for the next 25 years) blacks get the seats in the front and everyone else has to go to the back of the bus. Or maybe that’s too extreme. Maybe the demand would merely have been to reserve seats for minorities roughly in proportion to their proportion of riders on each route.