“I’m a certified black man.” A Seattle man who claims to be 4 percent black based on a home DNA ancestry test is suing the federal government for denying him minority business owner status.
Ralph Taylor identified as Caucasian until 2010, when an
Last November, armed with the test results, the 55-year-old insurance agent updated his birth certificate to reflect his newfound identity. While he looks Caucasian, he is now legally
“I’m a certified black man,” he told The Washington Post last week. “I’m certified black in all 50 states. But the federal government doesn’t recognize me.”
To prove his minority status, Taylor said he
“It is nonsensical for Mr. Taylor to claim that he has encountered social and economic disadvantage due to a heritage he was not aware of until the DNA test conducted in 2010,” an
After the rejection, Taylor decided to sue, arguing that it's inconsistent for a state-level program to consider him a disadvantaged minority but not a federal-level one.
The lawsuit against Washington State and the federal government, filed in July 2016, is currently pending with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. It argues that the government's system to determine who is a minority
“It’s just not a fair system,” Taylor told the Post. “Hopefully, what comes out of this is that the system is broken.”
“We work really hard to be fair. Nothing is just black and white,” she said.
Taylor's case presents a complex dilemma of how race is defined, and how government agencies decide who should get aid because of their minority status.
While home DNA tests have become popular in recent years, their
Another question posed by Taylor's case is whether Americans who identify as minorities should get government benefits merely on the basis of being a minority, since not all minority Americans necessarily enjoy less opportunities because of their ethnicity.
As Taylor told the Post, Michael Jordan's son would be considered as "disadvantaged" under the government's current guidelines.
“My forefathers were just as distressed as anyone else’s,” he told The Post. “We all have the ability to come from bad backgrounds.”
Germania is a staff writer at Pluralist.
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