Harry Alford

By Harry C. Alford

NNPA Columnist

I was being interviewed by two French citizens whose mission is to end discrimination in France.  Their mission is very difficult because it is illegal to denote one’s race on any form or application.  Race does not appear in the French census and to actually keep a count by race is a felony. The Catch 22 is that you cannot justify or document a charge of discrimination.  You may know it is there but how can you prove it?

I started explaining to them how deeply demographics are followed in our society. We do racial counts on just about everything.  We have offices per the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Executive Order 11246 that count and analyze demographics and are able to detect disparate impact or discrimination.  Those companies or organizations that discriminate should be sanctioned and forced to change their ways.  But then she asked: “So why is there still discrimination?”

I thought to myself there surely remains discrimination in our society even though we have all of these safeguards.  My conclusion and response to her: “We really don’t enforce it as we should.”  That is the cold truth and the tragedy of our society today.

Discrimination is, in fact, just about everywhere in America such as our education, employment, promotion and hiring, housing, lending, healthcare, etc.  Every rung on our economic ladder eludes Blacks except the bottom rung.  As I admonish our South American countries for having their Blacks on the lowest rung of their economic ladder, I better turn around and note our state of affairs.  We have more money than their Blacks but it is all relative.  Weather it is England or the United States where data is king or France where the Black demographic is invisible, it just doesn’t matter.

We spend an exorbitant amount of time and money on the issue but still, there is no change.  Every federal agency and state administration has an Office of Civil Rights.  Most have a minority business office to ensure against disparity in contracting. Yet, there isn’t a state agency or federal agency that can boast more than 4 percent consistent Black business participation anywhere in this nation.

We have disparity studies performed every five years for our states and major cities.  This is prescribed by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  From one disparity study to an update to another update the fact remains:  the disparity or indication of discrimination still exists.  We do nothing to address the problem – discrimination.  We know how to “sniff” out the discrimination; how to point the finger and supposedly how to remedy it.  But the remedy never comes.  Wow, we are so patient.

Let’s look at Executive Order 11246 (President Lyndon B. Johnson).  The Department of Labor through its Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs monitors the hiring and promotion practices of all businesses that fall under the regulatory process or benefits from our federal government.  That is just about everyone. As an example every construction project on public schools receives the payroll tabulations from each contractor on a weekly basis.  On these payrolls is the zip code of each worker, also the race, social security number, gender, wage and whether he/she is management, or which craft/level.  They tabulate this as the project proceeds and have up to the minute status of racial and gender demographics concerning salaries, hiring, promotion, firing, etc.  They now also include the status of Americans with Disabilities and Disabled Veterans.  The OFCCP knows it all.  Ask them about the racial progress of any football stadium, court house, post office building, county office building, city hall, etc., they have it in real time.

The OFCCP also assigns goals by race and gender for each select marketing area.  You can call an OFCCP office and ask them what the goal is for Black workers in York, Pa.  They will tell you, over the phone that it is 12.9 percent.  If there is a project in York using less than, let’s say, 5 percent with Black workers, you should scream outrage and stop the project until they can get it right.  At least once every two years, every entity gets audited by the OFCCP.  Every utility company, city office, fire department, police department, airport authority and every company working at the airport, bank, etc. gets an audit.  The audit is considered a public record.  You can get it under the Freedom of Information Act.  Google is the only company in this nation that has successfully stopped OFCCP from releasing their audits.  What are they hiding?

There are other ways of getting the numbers also.  We can get them but we don’t do anything about it.  We don’t enforce the laws that are there only because we had leaders willing to die for freedom.  Wake up America and enforce what we have fought for.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO, of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®.  Website: www.nationalbcc.org.  Email: halford@nationalbcc.org


Freddie Allen is the National News Editor for the NNPA News Wire and BlackPressUSA.com. 200-plus Black newspapers. 20 million readers. You should follow Freddie on Twitter and Instagram @freddieallenjr.