Op/Ed: Shortcuts for ‘good optics’ don’t fix Indiana’s problems. I plan to change that.

Actions do indeed speak louder than words, but bold leadership actually requires both.

I recently announced that as governor, I would close down the Office of the Chief Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity Officer.

That’s not just because the agency is so poorly named. (Office of the Officer? Really?)

Nor is it because issues related to diversity and equal opportunity are unimportant.

Quite the contrary. These issues matter.

A lot.

They matter so much, in fact, that they deserve a better platform for progress than a buzzword-laden agency concocted for the purpose of appeasing insincere race-baiting agitators who advance their left-leaning causes by stirring the pot of identity politics.

Perhaps more than any other group, my fellow Black Americans and I have had it up to here with sales pitches from hucksters just looking to make a dime or make a name.

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As with many other issues, my approach as governor to topics related to diversity and opportunity would be first to cut through all the bull — er, all the red tape.

Albert Einstein said, “Bureaucracy is the death of any achievement.”

We don’t need more bureaucracy.

As governor, I will create meaningful partnerships between local government, community and faith leaders, encouraging both new initiatives and those that have a proven record of fostering relationships and providing real dialogue and real action.

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Rather than just prop up another state agency, my administration will weave the principles of equal justice and opportunity into the whole fabric of state government and public policy.

When we try to address complex issues with shortcuts and Band-Aids — instead of true hard work — we will always fail.

Consider the Minority Business Enterprises certification in Indiana. I am sure the creators of this program were well-intentioned. It had been packaged and sold to Black Hoosiers as a way to increase Black business ownership in Indiana to make up for decades of discriminatory practices.

Often, however, Blacks are the last ones to benefit, as compared to other minorities. And now, we have entered an era in which so-called inclusion policies are more geared toward transgender individuals than Blacks.

Some might say this pattern of leaving Black Americans out in the cold is an unintended consequence. That might be true, but by now, we should expect this type of result when, rather than taking the time and putting in the work to fully comprehend and address the root causes of the issues we are trying to solve, we opt instead for shortcuts with “good optics.”

Called by whatever name, affirmative action programs of all kinds suffer from prioritizing optics over results.

Take education: The answer to failing schools is not to lower the standards for students based on their race. Taking this shortcut may give the appearance of helping Black students, but in actuality, it’s merely a different way to fail them.

We need to have faith in the abilities of our young minds to rise to the challenge and flourish. Instead of lowering expectations, we should raise them — and provide students with the tools to meet them.

These ideas could lead to even longer discussions that segue into talking about the importance of intact families — and to such things as school choice. If our schools are failing, we should fix the schools and provide students with options so that their ZIP codes do not determine their educational outcomes.

The great author Zora Neale Hurston addressed affirmative action this way: “If I say a whole system must be upset for me to win, I am saying that I cannot sit in the game and that safer rules must be made to give me a chance. I repudiate that. If others are in there, deal me a hand and let me see what I can make of it, even though I know some in there are dealing from the bottom and cheating like hell in other ways.”

Hurston, who lived at a time (1891-1960) when it was inarguably harder to be Black in America than it is today, knew that the odds were stacked against her. But she also knew that she would never make her mark, never flourish, and, on a larger scale, never see these odds and perceptions change in society if she was just handed the victory. She could not afford a shortcut.

Hoosiers cannot afford the shortcuts anymore, either.

If we want to fix our education system, end the mental health crisis in Indiana and improve our criminal justice system, we must fix what is actually broken in each of these areas — not obscure and prolong the problems with superficial shortcuts.

Former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill

I wholeheartedly believe that it is true what they say: a rising tide lifts all boats. Rather than pandering to certain demographic groups with shortcuts and slogans, I intend, as governor, to create enduring solutions that make Indiana an even better state for all Hoosiers.

Curtis Hill is a former attorney general and Republican candidate for governor of Indiana.

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