The Corner

Defining “Minority”

Portuguese business owners in Rhode Island are upset with a proposed state law that would strip them of their official “minority” status – and the contracting set-asides that go with it.  There are no heroes in this story, however, which provides a nice lesson in the perils of racial preference in an increasingly multiracial society.

The bill is proposed by two state senators: one African American and one Latino. Qualifying minorities would still include African Americans and Latinos (of course), as well as Asian Americans and Native Americans.

So you can sort of feel sorry for the Portuguese. On the other hand, they aren’t demanding equal treatment for all: They still want other European and Middle Eastern Americans to be discriminated against. And, if push comes to shove, they are even happy for some Portuguese companies to be discriminated against, so long as it’s not them personally. Says one Portuguese owner, “I think if they’re going to go through with it, people should really be grandfathered in. That’s the only fair way to do it.” Right!

Another Portuguese lurches closer to the truth, saying, “[E]ither you do away with the program entirely or you make (all minorities) eligible.” And the answer is, do away with the program entirely.


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