Racial Quotas Bar Minorites In Brooklyn?

After decades of watching the sons and daughters of black doctors and lawyers get preferencial tretment in college admissions over those of white coal miners and mill workers, and corporate titans kowtow to the Al Sharptons of the world, those appalled by America’s ever-expanding regime of racial quotas will be forgiven for thinking things could not get more bizarre on the quotas front. But now comes a remarkable new twist. It seems that in Mark Twain School, IS 239, a magnet middle school for gifted students in Brooklyn’s Coney Island section, it is minority kids who are getting penalized for the color of their skin.

This first came to light back in June, when a story in The New York Post – to date, The Times has not deigned to cover this remarkably revealing case – reported that the parents of a very bright 11-year old of Indian descent named Nikita Rau were up in arms because their had been denied admission to the school, though her test scores would have been more than adequate had she been Caucasian. It turned out the policy of discrimination on behalf of whites had been in place since 1974, when it was put in place to comply with a federal court desegregation order. The aim of this bit of social engineering was to maintain a 6-4 white-to-minority ratio at the school, but in practice, as always, the effect was to punish the innocent. “I feel bad because I would have gotten in if I was white,” the paper quoted the girl. Meanwhile, her outraged parents, saying it could adversely affect her chances in life – including her shot at getting into Harvard or Princeton – announced they were hiring a lawyer to challenge the decision.

Soon thereafter, it appeared a happy ending was in sight and legal action would not be necessary, when the Supreme Court ruled against such racial quotas in a case involving schools in Seattle and Louisville. Yet in the intervening months, schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who earlier described the quotas as an “anachronism,” has left them in place, and the parents are now proceeding with their suit against both Klein and New York’s Department of Education, represented by Terrence Pell of the Center for Individual Rights.

Among the ironies here is that in many jurisdictions, young Nikita Rau, in the bizarre, Orwellian logic of diversity bureaucrats, would not even be officially find herself in the same category as blacks and Hispanics; and, indeed, might actually be lumped in with whites. In California, for instance, prior to the passage of a state initiative banning such discrimination, Asians were classified as an “overrepresented minority,” and thus deemed inelligible for preferential treatment.

If Americans are baffled and outraged by the current system, its hardly surprising that those drawn to this country as a beacon of freedom and equality are even more so. “We should not face this in America,” as the girl’s father, Dr. Anjan Rau, who emigrated from India in 1982, proclaimed to The Post. “I think it’s morally wrong!”

Harry Stein

Harry Stein is a contributing editor to City Journal.

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