Heather Mac Donald on When Race Trumps Merit

Orange County Lawyers Chapter

It seems obvious why there are high standards for jobs like police and firefighters, or for scientists, or for concert musicians—or, for that matter, most any job: to produce excellence. But a legal doctrine known as "disparate impact" holds that if racial minorities disproportionately fail to meet those standards, the law presumes these standards are not meant for merit, but for racism.

Heather Mac Donald's new book is When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives. Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, argues that racially neutral standards that produce racially disparate results point to large academic skills gaps. These skills gaps are harming meritocratic organizations and large differences in criminal offending. By vilifying standards, the gaps only grow and people suffer. When the finger points at the moon, the idiot looks at the finger.


  • Heather Mac Donald, Thomas W. Smith Fellow, Manhattan Institute; Contributing Editor, City Journal


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