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The truth about racism in Congress

The truth about racism in Congress
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It is 2021 but two senators are handling cabinet nominees like we are back in 1921. Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono refuse to approve the nominations of any more white people, unless they belong to the gay and transgender community. That is discrimination. That is racist.

President Biden claims to have the most diverse cabinet in history, based solely on the measures of race and gender. Diversity of thought does not count. Amidst the rainbow of faces, two senators of Asian descent are angry because they do not see enough Asian representation.

Duckworth announced, “I am a no vote, on the floor, on all nondiversity nominees. I will vote for racial minorities and LGBTQ, but anybody else, I am not voting for.” Hirono joined in protest, “This is not about pitting one diversity group against another. I am happy to vote for a Hispanic, a Black person, an LGBTQ person, an Asian person. I would just like to see more diversity representation.” Duckworth backed down a bit after claiming she got the White House to agree to more Asian nominees.

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Biden said his picks have “a lot of Asian Americans.” Perhaps he meant half Indian and half Black Vice President Kamala Harris, Indian American Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Chinese American Trade Representative Katherine Tai, or Chinese American Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su. But rather than discuss how his picks satisfy their various quotas, Biden and all Americans should reject such logic. Boiling people down to their skin color and other identities is insulting to their credentials and individuality. But this is the world that Biden created when he committed to applying a racial equity lens to every aspect of his administration.

No matter how the left tries to frame it, pursuing equity is not equality. It is discrimination and it is reprehensible. Equality unites while equity divides. Equality treats individuals as individuals and respects the totality of their beings. Equity does not see individuals but groups and boils individuals down to whatever limited characteristics can earn them membership into either the category of victim or oppressor. Equity prescribes quotas and preferential treatment of the victim at the expense of others.

Equity focuses on ensuring that every group has the same outcomes, whereas equality ensures that every person has access to all the same opportunities. Equality overcomes discrimination by treating all people the same. Equity is only achieved by discrimination. This is the mindset behind those comments from Duckworth and Hirono. This should be alarming to every person who strongly believes our nation should be a place of equality, equal treatment, and equal opportunities. 

In truth, our nation has not always lived up to the ideal of equality for all. Slavery, the Civil War, suffrage for women, and the Civil Rights era mark periods of social upheaval and division stemming from racism and sexism. I am a woman. I descend from slaves brought to work the sugarcane fields of the Caribbean. I migrated legally to the United States with my family as a child. At varying points in history, any of those traits would have barred me from voting, owning property, having a job, or holding office.

But our nation is not static. Disenfranchised groups who were treated as second class citizens and barred from exercising their rights and other freedoms successfully pushed to make this country more inclusive and more equitable. Our nation eventually rallied behind the dream of Martin Luther King that a person would not be defined by their most immutable characteristic of skin color. Yet the social justice movement today seeks to replace that dream of equality with the nightmare of equity.

This is a nation that moves forward and rewards merit. The obsession and willingness to judge individuals based on skin color alone is the epitome of racism. No one would tolerate a white lawmaker saying he or she would oppose all nonwhite cabinet picks. It should also not be acceptable from Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. Minorities who embrace equity as a form of justice should be careful. Someone might one day move them from victim to oppressor. Even if this yields them a brief surge in power, it does so at the cost of our humanity and degrades the very idea of justice.

Patrice Onwuka is director of the Center for Economic Opportunity at the Independent Womens Forum. You can follow her online @PatricePinkFile.