Editorial: Does racial diversity panel follow common sense? No

The Vermont Senate recently passed legislation intended to “promote racial justice reform throughout the state by mitigating systemic racism in all systems of state government and crating a culture of inclusiveness.”
The legislation, S.281, would create a cabinet level position — the chief civil rights officer — and would be appointed by a five-person civil rights advisory panel. The position would be independent of the governor’s office.
But the legislation mandates that three-of-the-five advisory panel positions be filled by minorities and that didn’t settle well Franklin County State Senator Randy Brock, who is African American.
“I believe it’s wrong, particularly for a state position — a paid position in state government — to indicate that it can only be filled by persons of a certain race. That, to me, is absolutely repugnant to the idea of justice and equity,” he said.
Mr. Brock also noted the law would set a precedent that could be problematic. If racial quotas can be set to meet one need, then what prevents the same law being invoked to set racial quotas to consider other needs?
Mr. Brock proposed his own amendment, in which the appointed panel would “reflect a variety of backgrounds, skills, experiences and perspectives, be racially diverse and represent geographically diverse areas of the state” and that appointments would be made in a “nondiscriminatory manner.”
It was defeated.
Which brings up the obvious question: If racial quotas are mandated, if the purpose of the appointments is to reflect bias, then isn’t the chief’s ability to get the job done in a trustful manner compromised from the outset?
Had Mr. Brock’s amendment been accepted, racial diversity would have been required and the worry of setting a problematic precedent would have been avoided. Equally interesting, obviously, is the fact that Mr. Brock understands racism better than any of his lily-white colleagues who voted to oppose him. He’s black. He’s lived it. They’re not. They haven’t.
They know better, why?
It’s a case of political correctness overriding common sense.
The cause is a good one, of course. Racial diversity is something to encourage, racial bias is something to discourage. But the path chosen by the Senate could easily become counterproductive. Now that the bill has passed out of the Senate and is being reviewed by the House Committee on Government Operations, Mr. Brock’s suggestion should be revisited, and accepted.
Emerson Lynn/St. Albans Messenger

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