[Ed. – This whole article is well worth reading for the window it provides on how inane our government policies are, in light of the ambiguities and social uses of “race.” I actually suspect Mr. Taylor may be trying to demonstrate that point, rather than straightforwardly seeking a federal contracting advantage by having himself declared “black” or African-American. It sounds like he may be something of a crank. But the picture here is of preferential policies that never made much sense, and whose time is now long past.]
In 2014, Ralph Taylor applied to have his insurance company in Washington State certified as a “disadvantaged business enterprise.” The DBE program at the U.S. Department of Transportation was originally designed to help minority- and woman-owned businesses win government contracts. So as proof of his minority status, Taylor submitted the results of a DNA test, estimating his ancestry to be 90 percent European, 6 percent indigenous American, and 4 percent sub-Saharan African.
Government officials reviewing Taylor’s application were not convinced. They saw that he looked white. They noted that he was unable to directly document any nonwhite ancestors. They doubted the underlying validity of the DNA test. And, most relevant to the purpose of the program, they found “little to no persuasive evidence that Mr. Taylor has personally suffered social and economic disadvantage by virtue of being a Black American.” They refused to certify his company. So Taylor decided to sue—out of principle, he says, because other business owners who look white have won DBE certification before.