New Bias Seen In Workplace: Treating Race As A Qualification
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Aired 5/13/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.
John Skrentny is a sociology professor at UC San Diego and author of the recently published book "After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Marketplace"
Andrea Guerrero is the executive director of Alliance San Diego. She wrote a book on the end of affirmative action at the University of California called Silence at Boalt Hall: The Dismantling of Affirmative Action
The San Diego Unified School District is the latest local organization to acknowledge a need for more diversity. The district wants its teaching staff to more adequately reflect the growing non-white student population.
But is that really a good idea? Some doubt has been cast on this concept of racial realism by UC San Diego sociology professor John Skrentny.
In his recent Op-Ed in The New York Times, Skrentny warns that too much reliance on matching race and ethnicity between employees and customers or teachers and students could lead to a new form of racial discrimination.
In the Op-Ed, Skrentny said, "Corporations often match African-American, Asian-American and Latino sales employees to corresponding markets because of their superior understanding of these markets, or because customers prefer to see employees of their own race, or both.
"This is not affirmative action: Such “racial realism” is not intended to guarantee equal opportunity or compensate injustice, but rather to improve service and deliver profits for employers."
Andrea Guerrero, author of Silence at Boalt Hall: The Dismantling of Affirmative Action, said in an email, "Hiring for in-race interactions is about cultural competency.
"Having that competency is not limited to same-race individuals," Guerrero said. "But if schools don't teach it, if companies don't develop it, and if people don't live it, then it doesn't exist outside of the same-race dynamic."