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Letter: Racial inequities can go both ways; players’ protests change nothing
San Francisco 49ers players, from left, Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL game Oct. 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Marcio Jose Sanchez) - photo by Associated Press

Colin Kaepernick blames this country and it’s flag for perceived inequities in treatment of black people. I wonder what his argument would be if the government suddenly came up with a mandate to hire more whites and other ethnicities in the NFL and NBA, since the vast majority of players are black? His answer likely would be that blacks are more highly qualified for these positions. Reasonable, but shouldn’t the same statement apply to other positions?

I was the first biologist hired for a field position with the USDA Forest Service in the 14-state Southern Region (Region 8) in 1958. At the time, I had a slight advantage of coming out of a four-month stint in an Army hospital. By the early ‘70s, there would have been no possibility of my being hired by the Forest Service, since I was white. Being stationed in the Regional Office in Atlanta, I was exposed to hiring practices by the personnel division. A common directive for hiring at the time was “a white male will be the last person considered for this position.”

My supervisor, at one point, told personnel that he wanted “seven black soil scientists,” no other qualifications. They hired seven black soil scientists. The scientists were certainly not to blame. The Deputy Regional Forester who directed the hiring was white. I worked closely with personnel from other government agencies and they stated that hiring practices were similar.

These hiring practices were not fair, but certainly did not justify blaming the flag and country for some individuals’ or agency bias at the time.

 By the ‘80s, women also benefited by such bias in hiring practices. At one point, the Forest Service in California came out with a goal of achieving a workforce comprised of 70 percent female employees, although they made up less than 1 percent of Forestry graduates at the time. This certainly doesn’t mean that females should not be hired. At the time, I recommended the Forest Service hire a particular college graduate as the first female fishery biologist. She is still serving as an outstanding Forest Service employee.

A recent Times Opinion Page depiction of Colin’s stance was particularly telling. In one caricature, he was stating he was demonstrating because of the inequities of how blacks were being treated. In the second, his demeanor was significantly different when the reporter asked him if he would give up his multimillion-dollar salary to make the situation more equitable for those less endowed.

Kaepernick is using a couple of highly publicized instances of police action against blacks to indict all police at the expense of blacks. The fact that the instances were fully investigated and the police were absolved of any racial bias appears to make no difference to him. He needs to grow up and realize just how privileged he has been to achieve his current position in this country.

Monte E. Seehorn


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