Friday, May 2, 2008

Wheels within wheels

This topic is going to require a little tiptoeing around delicate subject matter, so forgive me for being a little abstruse.

It has always seemed to me that one of the unfortunate effects of affirmative action might be to cause people to be uneasy about minorities in the professions. Let's say you are feeling a little under the weather and you go to the new doc in town, and lo! he or she is a member of a minority group. I defy anyone not to wonder, somewhere in the back of the mind, whether this person might not be one who was admitted, passed, and certified on the basis of the minority status.

People me this can't be the case. I nod but in the back of my mind, I'm saying, "Yeah, right," with as much sarcasm as I can muster. It's too bad that people may think that way, unfair to all the good doctors, lawyers, merchants, and thieves out there who worked hard in an unfair world.

Now, there are, it seems to me, three choices of action for a person who suddenly has to trust his or her liver to an unknown quantity. Person A, inhales deeply of the spirit of affirmative action, and will use the services of the professional even if, or perhaps, especially if, they may not be in fact, ready to practice. Person B wouldn't go to a minority professional if his or her life depended on it. And person C (that's me) realizes that a lot of the majority population in the professions consists of people dumb as posts and that it's a crapshoot anyway.

Case in point. I recently saw in the news that a person of double minority status (woman plus minority) had been appointed to a high office in spite of the fact that her credentials weren't specifically in the area she'd been appointed to. I huffed a couple of times (Person B behavior). But then I realized that I really didn't know anything about this woman, and perhaps I should let her have a chance. The good news is that she won't kill anyone if she goofs up.

And don't give me that stuff about being prejudiced before hand. I'm that way with everyone, so I am at least evenhanded.

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