FanDuel - WFBC

April 23, 2012

Lawsuit: Driver 'Too White' for NASCAR: An aspiring Hispanic driver has filed a federal suit against NASCAR, claiming he was denied the opportunity to compete in the racing circuit's diversity program because he looks "too Caucasian." Michael Rodriguez, 24, is of Spanish and Puerto Rican descent and claims he was discriminated against because of his blue-eyed, fair-skinned complexion. NASCAR Attorney Jeff Pasek argued in court that if the diversity program was not allowed to consider a driver's skin color, "it would make a mockery of the program."

posted by rcade to auto racing at 10:43 AM - 20 comments

NASCAR tries to do the politically correct thing by having a "diversity program" and they get sued for it. Thanks for nothing.

And how, exactly, are his civil rights being violated (from the article)? Maybe he's not racing in NASCAR because he's not good enough to compete.

posted by insomnyuk at 11:04 AM on April 23

NASCAR tries to do the politically correct thing by having a "diversity program" and they get sued for it.

No, NASCAR's attorney spells out exactly why they're being sued: They discriminated against applicants because their appearance wasn't minority enough.

This has to be the most wheels-off diversity program ever. Thousands of entities manage to do outreach to minorities without encountering this problem.

posted by rcade at 11:15 AM on April 23

No, NASCAR said that he didn't make it because of merit. They also argued that it is okay to base diversity programs on appearance of diversity. Most outreach programs care about the numbers not the visuals. If a white member of the KKK applies to college and checks black on the form, for purposes of admissions, that person is black. NASCAR wants people to be able to see their diversity program working.

posted by bperk at 11:24 AM on April 23


NASCAR argues in its summary judgment brief, and Pasek reiterated at the hearing, that the selection of drivers for the 2006 combine was done by closed ballot and that there is no proof that Rodriguez was rejected by a majority of the members because of his skin color.

"Absolutely skin color has nothing to do with our decision process," Higdon said. "He, like many others, did not make the cut based on merit and merit only."

So, basically, this guy didn't make the cut because he wasn't good enough. His suit will fail unless he can come up with some pretty damning evidence that he doesn't appear to have based on the article.

But NASCAR would like to keep its options open for when a qualified, yet light-skinned applicant does arise. It will be interesting to keep an eye on where this one goes.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:52 PM on April 23

After reading the headline, i though the article would be about Jeff Gordon.

posted by Debo270 at 01:14 PM on April 23

No, NASCAR said that he didn't make it because of merit.

If that's all that took place, why are NASCAR's attorneys fighting for the principle of discriminating against minorities who don't look minority enough? If there was no evidence they did that to Rodriguez, it seems strange to me they'd argue for their right to do it.

posted by rcade at 01:47 PM on April 23

Whenever you try to enact some sort of discriminatory (or preferential) policy even when its purpose is to rectify some past discrimination, it usually results in more discrimination. I am a firm believer in stopping discrimination rather than discriminating to fix discrimination. You simply cannot institute a preferential policy towards some, without discriminating against someone else to do so.

posted by Atheist at 01:59 PM on April 23

What an incredibly dumb thing for NASCAR to do. Latinos would have rallied behind this guy regardless of how he looks. Mark Sanchez had a huge Latino following when he was at USC despite being third-generation American and barely speaking any Spanish.

Haters would have called Rodriguez a token regardless of how white he looks, just like they would with a darker Latino who managed to pass NASCAR's 21st Century paper-bag test.

posted by Etrigan at 02:02 PM on April 23

You simply cannot institute a preferential policy towards some, without discriminating against someone else to do so.

And?

The Rooney rule has resulted in more black head coaches in the NFL. And consequently less white coaches.

The general consensus prior to the rule was that blacks were being unfairly denied head coaching opportunities. If you agree with that consensus, how would you go about "stopping discrimination" without some form of preferential policy?

And if you want more Hispanics driving in NASCAR, since they're the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S., how would you achieve that without some kind of program that shows preference to aspiring Hispanic drivers?

posted by rcade at 02:07 PM on April 23

NASCAR also said that when they looked under the hood of his car and didn't find a set of melodic air horns, that was the clincher.

posted by beaverboard at 02:29 PM on April 23

If there was no evidence they did that to Rodriguez, it seems strange to me they'd argue for their right to do it.

I think it's just about the precedent that is being set. NASCAR wants to retain the right to make decisions based on looks down the road. He sued claiming that the program was illegal, not just that it was applied to him illegally. Therefore, to protect the program, NASCAR has to argue that the program is legal, even if it wasn't applied to him in an illegal way.

posted by tahoemoj at 04:05 PM on April 23

If that's all that took place, why are NASCAR's attorneys fighting for the principle of discriminating against minorities who don't look minority enough? If there was no evidence they did that to Rodriguez, it seems strange to me they'd argue for their right to do it.

It's the throw-shit-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks strategy. You give the judge a bunch of arguments and he or she can choose which one to buy.

posted by bperk at 04:34 PM on April 23

The Rooney rule has resulted in more black head coaches in the NFL. And consequently less white coaches.

The general consensus prior to the rule was that blacks were being unfairly denied head coaching opportunities. If you agree with that consensus, how would you go about "stopping discrimination" without some form of preferential policy?

The way to stop discrimination is to stop discriminating. There is no other way.

posted by Madcatw at 06:34 AM on April 24

I seriously doubt that NFL GMs were intentionally discriminating against black head coaches. The NFL couldn't just stop discrimination when no one thinks they are doing it in the first place. However, the lack of black head coaches told a different story. That's how most discrimination occurs in the real world.

posted by bperk at 07:01 AM on April 24

I seriously doubt that NFL GMs were intentionally discriminating against black head coaches

Define "intentional" in this case.

posted by yerfatma at 08:58 AM on April 24

Define "intentional" in this case.

Maybe "consciously" is a better way to put it. IMO, most discrimination these days is not a matter of conscious bigotry but the result of non-conscious attitudes and beliefs. NFL GMs understood that saying, "I'm not going to hire him because he's black and therefore less competent" is discrimination, sure -- but that's not all there is to it. I know there have been some studies where a white person and a black person go into a store or apply for a job, for example -- dressed the same, acting the same, saying the same things, and receive very different treatment. Conscious and overt bigotry is easy to identify and challenge, but the covert attitudes are more pervasive, and very harmful.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:46 AM on April 24

I get that. Does it apply to the NASCAR case?

posted by yerfatma at 10:46 AM on April 24

I only brought it up because Madcatw mentioned the only way to stop discrimination was to stop discriminating. It is more complicated than that.

posted by bperk at 11:53 AM on April 24

I am not sure it is more complicated than that. Is Obama president because he received preferential treatment from voters or did voters stop discriminating?

Most likely some voters voted against him solely because he is black while others voted for him only because he is black. The good news is that more people voted for him because they did not discriminate based on color. I think we know this because the clear majority of voters are not black, and without a majority of non discriminatory voters, he would not have been elected.

My only point being, is to me, it appears that although we have a long way to go in this country, based on the fact that a black man has been elected president, we do have a majority of people who do not base their decisions on color and have stopped discriminating which is the only way to end discrimination. That should be somewhat encouraging.

posted by Atheist at 10:49 AM on April 25

posted by yerfatma at 10:55 AM on April 25

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