At the young age of 15, Michael Rodriguez had dreams of one day competing in NASCAR. Through the Drive for Diversity program, which focused on giving opportunities to minority drivers, Michael saw it as the perfect chance for him to break into the sport. Seven years later, Rodriguez is suing both NASCAR and the organization that ran the program, Access Communications, for denying him a spot because he was "too Caucasian."
One look at the picture of a young Michael Rodriguez would make one presume that he is, in fact, Caucasian. However, the truth of the matter is that Rodriguez is of Puerto Rican and Spanish descent, who just so happens to be blue-eyed and fair-skinned. After Wednesday's hearing, Judge Max Cogburn didn't issue an immediate ruliing because he felt uncomfortable with the case. “The core question for the court,” the judge told the attorneys, “is can you discriminate on color in an effort to diversify?”
Even though Judge Cogburn felt uneasy making a remark towards the sensitive subject matter, NASCAR chimed in with their own two cents stating:
“We would submit to (the court) it would be legitimate for Access to make its decision on affirmative action criteria,” said Jeff Pasek, an attorney representing NASCAR.
Access attorney Dhamian Blue followed later, reiterating what Access argued in its summary judgment brief, saying that the color of a driver’s skin can be proper criteria for an affirmative action plan.
“NASCAR recognized their need to change the face of NASCAR,” Blue said. “The ultimate desire was to pan across pit road and see minority drivers and minority crewmen. … When you talk about changing the face of NASCAR, color weighs very heavily.”
Do you think NASCAR has a point? Or is this just another form of racism? Let us know what y'all think.
[via Sporting News]