Malik James, the lawyer son of lawyer/mayor Sly James, has denounced Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens as a “privileged white man,” one who is “inflexible to all reason or compassion.” Greitens’s sin, as James sees it, is that he signed into law Missouri Senate Bill 43. James describes the bill as “making it easier and less costly for businesses to unlawfully discriminate against protected classes in the workplace.”
It is hard to know where to begin with James’s letter posted on his law firm’s blog. Let’s start with the reason for the law’s passage. KSHB-TV did a useful bit of reporting in February of this year. “Over the last 10 years,” the station reported, “almost a dozen Missouri metro school districts have seen at least a combined 80 employment discrimination lawsuits filed against them,” 46 of those were filed just against the Kansas City public schools.
“You can have a case in Missouri that’s very weak and it probably wouldn’t even be brought if the same conduct happened five miles to the west in Kansas,” explained attorney Joe Hatley, who works with area school districts. The Kansas laws, he explained, are more in line with federal standards. As a result, KSHB could find only three case on the Kansas side compared to the eighty on the Missouri side. Money spent on lawsuits is money not being spent on education.
James has likely never had an honest conversation with a Human Resources professional. Few people have. In their candid moments, HR people will tell you how they dread taking disciplinary action against “protected” classes of employees, the more protected, the more they dread it. That dread translated into Senate Bill 43. James could not have been happy with the law. One of the three principle practice areas for his firm is workplace discrimination.
Instead of discussing the issue honestly, James does exactly what he claims to not do, namely “play the race card.” Nowhere in the article, however, does James, who describes himself as “a black man in America,” mention that he has a white mother. That would weaken the hand he is so obviously playing.
That James dares to insult anyone as “privileged” is an act of pure chutzpah. Beyond the benefits of growing up in a prosperous, solid, two-parent family in the most prosperous country in the world, James has navigated a system that has offered little but rewards for people like himself. Throughout his ascendancy, universities, law schools, and law firms have aggressively favored people of color, especially those like James unburdened by broken families and bad schools.
The fact that Greitens is Jewish counts for nothing. Unlike James, who attended a private high school in Kansas, Greitens attended a public high school in Missouri. Unlike James, he has not benefitted from affirmative action. He is owed a major apology.