The Supreme Court delivered an important decision today preserving the ability of plaintiffs to challenge racist housing policies by proving a “disparate impact” on minorities, rather than an explicitly racist motivation. But the decision was a closely divided, 5–4.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate dissent, arguing that the majority decision is “built of sand.” Among his arguments was that the court shouldn’t concern itself with disparate racial impacts because they can benefit minorities. His proof? The NBA.
And in our own country, for roughly a quarter-century now, over 70 percent of National Basketball Association players have been black. R. Lapchick, D. Donovan, E. Loomer, & L. Martinez, Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, U. of Central Fla., The 2014 Racial and Gender Report Card: National Basketball Association 21 (June 24, 2014). To presume that these and all other measurable disparities are products of racial discrimination is to ignore the complexities of human existence.
It’s telling that the NBA is the only example that Justice Thomas provided. NBA players, of course, can generally afford to buy housing wherever they would like and don’t need to worry about exclusionary housing policies.
In the most of the rest of the economy, however, African Americans still face systematic discrimination.