Friday, September 26, 2003
Racist state of California: San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Joseph Perkins has a great article in today's paper on Proposition 54.
What astounds is that race demagogues like (Jesse) Jackson and (Cruz) Bustamante are hardly the only ones who hold this view. Many whites in California also share this view, particularly those who consider themselves enlightened on matters of race.
The "enlightened" whites think themselves above race prejudice, beyond race discrimination. But they think the rest of California's white population is less colorblind than they.
So they oppose Proposition 54 ostensibly to keep other whites honest. And to affirm their solidarity with blacks, browns, yellows and reds in the continuing struggle of those "minorities" for race equality.
The perverse irony is that the white and nonwhite foes of Proposition 54 find themselves supporting public policy – classifying individuals according to their skin color – that has a long and racist tradition.
It's reminiscient of a recent cartoon by the Detroit News' Henry Payne:
Perkins also provides an answer to some of the opponents of Prop. 54 with regard to its impact on medical studies and treatment:
And they employ the most dubious arguments to justify their support for public policy that has no moral or legal validity.
Like the claim that, if California health care providers stop collecting race data, the state's nonwhite population will not receive proper medical treatment.
That does not jibe with the scientific findings of J. Craig Venter, who founded Celera Genomics, the biotechnology firm that shares credit for decoding the human genome.
In a recent issue of Science, Venter says that collection of race and ethnicity data – for clinical drug trials – could lead to "misleading and biologically meaningless conclusions."
That's because "race" is a social, rather than scientific construct. "Instead of applying social categories," he wrote, we should be promoting obtaining scientific data. Color of skin does not work as a surrogate."
In fact, he noted, several scientific studies have shown that there are more differences in drug responses within racial and ethnic groups than among them.
Prop. 54's time has come.