‘I am hoping that the country gives serious thought to the fact that the government has no objective criteria for race and they know it…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A Washington State business-owner is challenging the biased and capricious policies that determine eligibility for disadvantaged and minority status in state and federal incentives programs.
“Orion Insurance Group owner Ralph Taylor presents as white and has always believed himself to be white, but now wants to be known as a person of color. For business purposes, anyway.”@EmbraceTheJ @Blavity @sociallifeofdna @alondra #blacktwitterhttps://t.co/6TQApJNbDq
— BlackCentralStation (@BlackCentralStn) September 25, 2018
Taylor’s case, if accepted, could prove to be a landmark decision on the standards that the government uses to determine racial identity.
“If they pick up the case I am hoping that the country gives serious thought to the fact that the government has no objective criteria for race and they know it,” Taylor told Liberty Headlines in an email.
After a DNA test showed that Taylor was 90 percent Caucasian, 6 percent American Indian and 4 percent of sub-Saharan African descent, he submitted the test to Washington’s Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises, which—according to court records—certified him as black and allowed him to qualify as a Minority Business Enterprise.
Among other things, the program is used in consideration of granting government contracts.
Based on his MBE eligibility, Taylor also applied for the federally-funded Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
However, questioning the validity of the DNA test, they demanded that Taylor provide proof of a direct ancestor and found “little to no persuasive evidence that Mr. Taylor has personally suffered social and economic disadvantage by virtue of being a Black American,” reported The Atlantic.
The Washington OMWBE bureau later reversed its MBE certification upon reviewing Taylor’s eligibility.
Email records and a polygraph test that Taylor provided to Liberty Headlines indicate that he received conflicting accounts from the state bureau—some of whom allegedly supported his efforts “because it would be best for the country to show we are all the same,” according to the documents.
Although Taylor had his birth certificate updated to reflect his Native American ancestry, the program had by then changed its eligibility requirements to require a tribal affiliation.
According to e-mails, a staffer in the Bureau of Indian Affairs advised him to contact the Muckleshoot tribe, saying it accepted non-indigenous tribal memberships, but Taylor continued to challenge, saying the DNA test alone should suffice.
“Explain to me how it is that a non-native American who has no native American, who was adopted into a tribe, who has no heritage is considered native American over someone who has native American heritage genetically as well as on their birth certificate and thus should receive benefits due to their tribal membership,” Taylor wrote the BIA staffer.
The legal question at hand took on added significance after the national news surrounding a DNA test submitted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren showed she was between 0.09 and 1.56 percent Native American.
Warren initially touted the result as a confirmation of her claims, demanding that President Donald Trump pay her $1 million for being proven wrong in doubting her. However, widespread condemnation of the test led her to apologize to the Cherokee Nation for making the false claims.
It was also revealed that Warren had listed minority status on her registration with the Texas Bar Association and other professional groups early in her career, and that she likely benefited from appropriating the minority identity, either directly or indirectly through affimative-action policies.
Taylor said in his lawsuit that he audited the federal agencies responsible for denying his claim and found “tens of thousands of Caucasians that have been certified as minorities,” according to his polygraph.
Despite the (not entirely unexpected) rejection by the 9th Circuit, Taylor said the outcome—he is in the process of filing a writ to petition the Supreme Court to hear the case—puts him where he wanted to be.
“I was hoping to get here or that they let me go to trial,” he said, “either way I could show the system for being flawed.”
And he added that for the bureaucracies involved, the litigation will prove much costlier than it would have been simply to apply an equal and consistent standard from the start.
“It would have been much easier to have just taken the certification and the monies that would have gone with the certification.”