Letters to the Editor: We cannot make racial discrimination go away by ignoring it

Affirmative action protest
A man demonstrates for affirmative action on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on April 1, 2003.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

To the editor: I am a black man who grew to adulthood in this segregated nation. I was active during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. (“Of course race matters. Put affirmative action back on California’s ballot,” editorial, June 12)

In 2007, Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race.” In other words, if you ignore it, the problem goes away.

Wiser by far was what the late Justice Harry Blackmun said in 1977: “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.”


At one point in a speech he gave at Howard University in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson said, “We seek not just legal equality, but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and equality as a result.” That is the goal.

White people’s charge of “reverse discrimination” with respect to affirmative action ignores the fact that whites have enjoyed affirmative action for the whole history of this country. Remember, Blacks were brought to this country as slaves, against their will, to work for white people without wages. After legal slavery, whites owned the businesses and hired other whites to staff and run them.

If we are to address the effects of hundreds of years of slavery and white supremacy, then white people are going to have to stomach what they may choose to call “reverse discrimination.”

Warner R. Traynham, Los Angeles


To the editor: The death penalty is wrong because juries are too frequently wrong, and because of the inherent moral inconsistency in the state responding to murder with legal murder.

Rolling back Proposition 209 presents the same sort of inconsistency. Resources are scare. Allocating resources and opportunity on the basis of group membership defined by race and gender also means withholding opportunities on the same basis.


We cannot logically expect to correct the harms done by racial discrimination by inviting the state to discriminate on the basis of race. It places massive power in the hands of those picking the winners and losers.

James E. Moore II, Los Angeles


To the editor: A good part of my career days hiring and managing people we were under the affirmative action guidelines. In my experience, this was a fantastic benefit.

My happiest hires came from this process. My biggest disappointments often came from hiring people I knew. It was an easy trap.

The American way is for the best and brightest to have opportunity and allow us to benefit from their achievements and contributions. Affirmative action keeps us honest in this area and helps us find the best and brightest. Unfortunately, we need this push to do the right thing.

If we can observe what happens in the case of the Trump administration hiring family members and cronies, we can see how that lazy and discriminatory approach serves us poorly.

Fred Missman, Torrance