‘Race norming’ is bigotry that began with good intentions | Kenan Malik

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The NFL, American soccer’s skilled league, is to abandon the observe of “race norming” in assessing compensation for former gamers with mind accidents. It’s the idea that black gamers have decrease cognitive functioning than white ones, an assumption that made it more durable for them to show that they had suffered a deficit by way of mind trauma and so qualify for a payout. Two former gamers, Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, had sued the NFL, having been denied compensation that they’d have obtained had they been white.

The remedy of black folks as cognitively much less ready is easy bigotry and attracts on a protracted racist historical past. The irony, although, is that race norming was launched as an anti-racist measure and as a part of affirmative motion programmes.

In 1980, the US Division of Labor pressured employers to regulate aptitude take a look at scores to enhance the efficiency of black folks, who typically did worse than white folks. The Equal Employment Alternative Fee threatened to sue firms not adopting such race norming. Racial changes additionally grew to become broadly utilized in medical diagnoses.

Race norming was imposed with the very best of intentions – to assist fight discrimination. The truth that conservative strain led to George Bush outlawing the observe in 1991 solely strengthened its attraction for liberals.

However the concept of assessing people in another way by advantage of the racial group to which they’re deemed to belong is essentially rooted in racist views of group variations. “After they use a special scale for African Individuals versus another race… that’s actually the definition of systematic racism,” Davenport mentioned. And that’s true in a manufacturing unit or workplace as a lot as on the soccer discipline. It’s a observe that solely strengthens the concept that races, and racial variations, are fastened entities. The NFL scandal is a reminder that racism can’t be challenged by adopting racist concepts.

Kenan Malik is an Observer columnist

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