Some of us are old enough to remember that “affirmative action” originally meant taking steps to ensure that applicants and employees were treated “without regard” to race, etc. If you’re not old enough to remember — or you’re so old you’ve forgotten — you can look up President Kennedy’s Executive Order 10925 (1961) and President Johnson’s Executive Order 11246 (1965).
Everyone knows that original meaning has long been abandoned and replaced by its opposite, that affirmative action now means treating some applicants and employees better and others worse based on their race, ethnicity, etc., ostensibly in order to promote “diversity,” or “inclusion,” or “equity,” or something.
What you may not know, yet, is that affirmative action may be on the verge of taking on a new, even more radical meaning: rooting out “systemic” or “endemic” discrimination by instilling “anti-racism.” There were more than hints of this new meaning in many of the justifications offered for placing Proposition 16 on the November 2020 ballot in California, discussed here.
But now comes Bangor, Maine, which has just announced that it will implement this new meaning:
The Bangor School Department will be adding a new position when students return this fall in an effort to combat racism.The school system is hiring a full-time Affirmative Action Officer for Bangor High School. This person will help students and staff with anti-racism training
The content of this “anti-racism training” has not yet been determined, but unless it differs markedly from similar programs it will require reading — or at least learning the lessons of — Ibram X. Kendi’s popular (No. 1 New York Times bestseller) anti-racism instruction manual, How To Be An Anti-Racist. As described by Christopher Caldwell in National Review a few days ago, anti-racism assumes that “the American system of politics, economics, and policing has been corrupted by racial prejudice, that such prejudice explains the entire difference in socioeconomic status between blacks and others, that the status quo must be fought and beaten, and that anyone not actively engaged in this system-changing work is a collaborator with racism, and therefore himself a legitimate target for attack.” What this amounts to is requiring discrimination against whites, and sometimes Asians, in order to benefit blacks.
It will be interesting to see how this works in Bangor. It’s hard to imagine any significant racism there, “systemic” or otherwise, since the population of the city is 93% white and 1.43% black. Perhaps “anti-racism training” there will involve something other than outright indoctrination, but more likely it will not.
According to Superintendent Betsy Webb, the School Department will be looking to hire “someone with specialized training in affirmative action and Title IX.” Great care, however, must be taken. Ironically, if the only candidates who are considered seriously are black, the School Department may run afoul of its own Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policy. “The Bangor School Department,” it states, shall “Recruit, hire, assign, train and promote persons in all job titles on the basis of merit and fitness, without regard to race, color, sex,” etc., etc., and shall “Ensure that all personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, layoffs, return from layoff, department-sponsored training, education, tuition assistance, social and recreation programs will be administered without regard to race, color, sex” etc., etc.
Last updated in September 2019, that policy clearly has not gotten the new memo about anti-racism. It reads as though it was written in another era, because it was.