When writing my book Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America (currently, btw, at its lowest price on Amazon to date), three things struck me about MBE affirmative action. One is that the Supreme Court issued two pretty strict rulings against in in 1989 and 1994, everyone thought this would be the end of minority contracting quotas and preferences. As it turned out, government at all levels was so committed to these programs that they exploited loopholes in the decisions and took advantage of the limited resources of preference opponents, such that racial preferences in contracting are more prevalent than ever. Which shows, in turn, that if SCOTUS want to get rid of such programs, whether in education or contracting, they need to hold them unconstitutional, period.

The second is that these programs were instituted in the 1970s to help black Americans integrate into the national economy, but the vast majority of such contracts go to post-1965 Hispanic, Caribbean, African, and Asian immigrants and their descendants, and to people with distant Native American heritage. Very few MBE contracts to descendants of American slaves. I tried to get some hard data on this from friends in the Trump federal Department of Transportation, but word came back that the statistics were so embarrassing that no one would ever release them. Meanwhile, given immigration and intermarriage rates, within a few decades eighty percent or more of Americans will be eligible for an MBE preference. If almost everyone gets a preference, does it still count as affirmative action?

Third, not only can people with only vague, distant minority ancestry claim MBE status, there is an incredible amount of fraud in these programs. Paper-only majority ownership by minorities, with the real owners being white men. White men pretending to be American Indians (finally, in 2019 the DOT started requiring tribal membership instead of self-identification), white men buying membership in Indian tribes, white men inventing otherwise non-existent Indian tribes and getting state legislatures to recognize the new tribe … and so on. It’s remarkable given the level of fraud and the amount of money involved that there is no book on the subject, and precious few investigations by journalists.