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September 20, 2018

Lynnwood man dragged after he tried to use a home DNA test to qualify as a minority business owner

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A Lynnwood business owner tried to use a home DNA test to try and qualify as a minority business owner, and the internet is just not having it. 

After finding out that state and federal programs ensure that minority-owned businesses can compete for government contracts due to centuries of institutional discrimination, a Lynnwood man who long identified as white used a DNA test to prove his ethnicity in order to claim minority status. 

Ralph Taylor says that although he is evidently white, it doesn't matter. The 55-year-old lived most of his life as a white man, but not considers himself to be of multiple races due to the DNA test results. Owner of Orion Insurance Group, Taylor wants the Department of Transportation to recognize him as a minority in order to gain more deals providing liability insurance to contractors. 

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The business owner is now suing Washington state and the federal government after being denied a minority-business certification under a program that was created more than twenty years ago to help provide better business opportunities for minority business owners in the transportation industry. When he provided no evidence of racial discrimination, he was denied the grant. 

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In 2010, Taylor began identifying himself as a multiracial person after a DNA ancestry test said that he was 90% Caucasian, 6% indigenous American, and 4% sub-Saharan African. He went to the Washington Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises (OMWBE) for his company, Orion Insurance Group, to be considered a minority business. Since their rules did not state a criterion defining a minority race or ethnicity, he was eventually approved by the OMWBE.

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However, the US Department of Transportation certification decided that he was Caucasian under the program's procedures, and so he was denied his application. This case has been posing a question as to how the government should identify who is and isn't a minority.

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For the OMWBE, it is a case-to-case basis who qualifies for both the state and federal programs that it manages. 

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