The barriers faced by African Americans, as a class, who seek to establish construction businesses and obtain contracts, are thus very different in nature, origin and intensity from those that may be encountered by Americans of different backgrounds, contrary to Petitioner's suggestion. While nonblack persons or families may, on an individual basis, experience disadvantages that limit or impede their economic potential, this country's long-maintained, governmentally-sanctioned discriminatory policies and customs continue to this day to systemically impede access to the economic mainstream for blacks. Such racial disadvantage is not - as this Court has sometimes suggested - the vestigial, attenuated remnant of amorphous “societal discrimination,” but has resulted from deeply rooted racial discrimination by federal, state, and local government actors as well as private individuals aided by discriminatory government policies.
*30 The powerfully entrenched disparities between blacks and whites that result, accompanied by ongoing racial discrimination, persist in making this country race-conscious, notwithstanding determined efforts by some to deny - in the face of every indication to the contrary - the continuing significance of race:
The appeal of color-blindness is that it projects as moral what is not; by refusing to see and act on the reality of continued discrimination, the color-blind can project themselves as above the fray, unsullied by manipulations of color. This, of course, leaves the problem unsolved, and, even worse, ensures that the problem will be ignored.”
This Court should turn away from such a course and hold that the Fourteenth Amendment authorizes race-conscious remedies that redress the cumulative effects of centuries of government-sanctioned discrimination against blacks and the exclusion of blacks from the economic mainstream; and that the Department of Transportation's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, therefore, serves the compelling state interest of remedying this country's incontrovertible history of racial oppression and of fulfilling the unfinished promise of the Fourteenth Amendment.
For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the court below should be affirmed.