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Opinion Letters Working to put to rest an ‘old lie’

I am amazed how nearly 50 years later there are still some Americans who still subscribe to the theory/philosophy, "that I cannot find a job or my standard of living is less," because of the "equal opportunity laws." I am sorry it has to stop and that "old" lie must be forever withdrawn. The laws were put into place because of this way of thinking and the practices behind it. Let’s be honest, if you children or grandchildren are not getting the opportunities you and they feel they deserve, it’s not because of "equal opportunity laws," it’s probably because they are "not qualified"; and placing blame on women and people of color is any easy escapegoat, rather than facing yourself in the mirror and saying "I was not qualified."

There are still far too many Americans who discriminate either based on race, ethnicity, religion, disabilities and gender. And whether you agree with it, "it is wrong" and there should be laws in place to punish those who think it’s acceptable to discriminate against anybody. As an African- American with a disability, I agree I should not be given opportunities based on the color of my skin and my deformity. I should get opportunity based on the fact I went to college, got an education and based on equal parts of experience and education I'm qualified for the job. In a perfect society that would take place, but in our society that does not transpire. As recent as four years ago, I had to sue my employer, because there was a few individuals who did not like the fact I had a disability and tried to terminate my employment. Now, my disability is based on a birth defect, no fault of my parents or myself. I requested a "reasonable accommodation" and you would have thought I requested custody of their first born child. I have never witnessed nor had ever been treated so badly in my 48 years on this earth; and I work for the federal government. Long story short, I won my right to reasonable accommodation, but had the laws not been put into place, I would be sitting at home drawing a check "due to my disability" paid for by the tax payers, which was suggested by one of the senior management officials, instead of using my God-given intellect to get up everyday and be a product and positive role model for my children and take care of them the best I possible can.

Now, some of the most intelligent and courage's people I have met are women (of any color) and people of color. And, they work hard everyday, they are not looking for hand outs or feel they are owed anything. They only want a "level playing field." And the equal opportunity laws provide a shield to discourage those of narrow minded and discriminative intent. You should be ecstatic that you are not alone in your way of thinking and changes are being made to further your cause, the recent Supreme Court decision to change/limit the Civil Rights Voting Act: voter IDs and redistricting.

Everyone should have the "equal" right to work and I agree it should not be based on quotas, color of skin, disability and/or gender; but it should and fore most be on who is the best "qualified." And if that person is a women or a person of color then they have earned that right.

James Parham — Franklin, N.C.

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