Affirmative or Racist?

It is not racist to treat people differently because of their skin color or ethnicity.

It is racist to treat people differently because of their skin color or ethnicity, when the difference stems from a belief that they are inferior.

As a very simple example, many “pulse ox” devices used by medical facilities give incorrect readings on blood oxygenation levels for Black people, and therefore leads to worse COVID treatment results on average for Black people. This requires recognizing and then remediating the situation based on skin color. However, it doesn’t make any value judgement about whether whites or Blacks are better. It simply recognizes a different outcome from otherwise identical treatment, and then requires changes to medical procedures based on skin color to achieve equal outcome.

Credit: Dorling Kindersley/Science Source

A common refrain against addressing inequality in American society is that it is necessarily racist to create any policy which differently treats people of different races.

But just like with the pulse ox sensors, this is not the case.

There are currently drastically different results for people of different ethnic groups in many different areas of American society. It will be impossible to address this challenge without applying different measures based on ethnicity. Doing so is not “racism against white people.” It IS an honest effort to provide truly equal opportunity.

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