Monday, August 10, 2020

The Systemic Racism Con

In his column this week Andrew Sullivan tries to shed some rational light on the current nonsense about “systemic racism." In particular, he analyzes the so-called thought-- it’s really a mindless rant-- offered by one Ibram X. Kendi. 

According to Kendi, here is the criterion for judging whether an institution is racist:

... does the staff reflect the demographics of New York City as a whole?

 But systemic racism, according to Kendi, exists in any institution if there is simply any outcome that isn’t directly reflective of the relevant racial demographics of the surrounding area.

So, Sullivan decides to analyze the proposition. And here is what he finds:

But notice how this new goal obviously doesn’t reflect New York City’s demographics in many other ways. It draws overwhelmingly from the college educated, who account for only 37 percent of New Yorkers, leaving more than 60 percent of the city completed unreflected in the staffing. It cannot include the nearly 19 percent of New Yorkers in poverty, because a NYT salary would end that. It would also have to restrict itself to the literate, and, according to Literacy New York, 25 percent of people in Manhattan “lack basic prose literary skills” along with 37 percent in Brooklyn and 41 percent in the Bronx. And obviously, it cannot reflect the 14 percent of New Yorkers who are of retirement age, or the 21 percent who have yet to reach 18. For that matter, I have no idea what the median age of a NYT employee is — but I bet it isn’t the same as all of New York City.

There’s more:

Around 10 percent of staffers would have to be Republicans (and if the paper of record nationally were to reflect the country as a whole, and not just NYC, around 40 percent would have to be). Some 6 percent of the newsroom would also have to be Haredi or Orthodox Jews — a community you rarely hear about in diversity debates, but one horribly hit by a hate crime surge. 48 percent of NYT employees would have to agree that religion is “very important” in their lives; and 33 percent would be Catholic. And the logic of these demographic quotas is that if a group begins to exceed its quota — say Jews, 13 percent — a Jewish journalist would have to retire for any new one to be hired. Taking this proposal seriously, then, really does require explicit use of race in hiring, which is illegal, which is why the News Guild tweet and memo might end up causing some trouble if the policy is enforced.

This is what would happen if anyone took Kendi’s thought seriously. 

As for whiteness, and for white privilege, once Sullivan examines the arguments, they turn to dust:

And all this leaves the category of “white” completely without nuance. We have no idea whether “white” people are Irish or Italian or Russian or Polish or Canadians in origin. Similarly, we do not know if “black” means African immigrants, or native black New Yorkers, or people from the Caribbean. 37 percent of New Yorkers are foreign-born. How does the Guild propose to mirror that? Ditto where staffers live in NYC. How many are from Staten Island, for example, or the Bronx, two places of extremely different ethnic populations? These categories, in other words, are incredibly crude if the goal really is to reflect the actual demographics of New York City. But it isn’t, of course.


The more you think about it, the more absurdly utopian the Kendi project turns out to be. That’s because its core assumption is that any demographic discrepancies between a profession or institution and its locale are entirely a function of oppression. That’s how Kendi explains racial inequality in America, and specifically denies any alternative explanation. So how is it that a white supremacist country has whites earning considerably less on average than Asian-Americans? How does Kendi explain the fact that the most successful minority group in America are Indian-Americans — with a median income nearly twice that of the national median? Here’s a partial list of the national origins of US citizens whose median earnings are higher than that of white people in America: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Pakistani, Iranian, Lebanese, Sri Lankan, Armenian, Hmong, Vietnamese. One group earning less: British-American.

Are all of these Asians profiting from their white privilege.

And what happens when we apply the rule to other occupations:

And that’s true of other institutions too: are we to police Broadway to make sure that gays constitute only 4 percent of the employees? Or, say, nursing, to ensure that the sex balance is 50-50? Or a construction company for gender parity? Or a bike messenger company’s staff to be reflective of the age demographics of the city? Just take publishing — an industry not far off what the New York Times does. 74 percent of its employees are women. Should there be a hiring freeze until the men catch up?

You get the picture. The debate is empty-headed  and absurd. Sullivan demonstrates that we Americans, proud as we are of our intelligence, have been kicking around unexamined concepts, the better to signal our virtue, nothing more.


urbane legend said...

he analyzes the so-called thought-- it’s really a mindless rant-- offered by one Ibram X. Kendi.

All Kendi and his ilk produce are mindless rants, some of them incomprehensible.

Giordano Bruno said...

Oh, wonderful. I love this game. Let's begin.

I notice Jews seem to be on the fence about if they are white or a 'unique' designation (roll eyes). Well, I'm here to sort that out.

What % of the population are Jews in America? 2%? Well, that's the new number in all of the professions that have Jews. 2%. Not 33%, Not 42%, not 10%. 2%. I'll be fair and apportion this on a regional basis, which still is going to cut Jewish participation in all the arts, sciences, and professions considerably. We need more Jewish garbagemen and HVAC techs, in the new world, however. Or, you could join the whites and get back to business.

BTW, it doesn't get any whiter than a pasty Ashkenazim Jew. They are practically translucent.

My Sephardic buddy, Haim, claims he is Hispanic, and that he has the schmeckel to prove it. I thnk he will do very well in the new regime.

Anonymous said...

Sullivan makes too much sense. They won't understand a word of it.

n.n said...

Diversity and exclusion, not limited to racism, sexism, genderism?, breeds adversity. They need to lose their Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic quasi-religion ("ethics"). Stop exercising liberal license to indulge color judgments (e.g. denial of individual dignity, denial of individual conscience, affirmative discrimination, color quotas, color blocs). Diversity dogma is a class-based taxonomic systems, processes, and beliefs favored by Pro-Choice sects of the Progressive Church. That said, it appears that there is a schism in progress in the Church between the two major factions: left and left of left. #HateLovesAbortion

autothreads said...

We need more Jewish garbagemen and HVAC techs, in the new world, however. Or, you could join the whites and get back to business.

I don't know about Jewish garbagemen, that industry seems to be dominated by Italians, but there are lots of Jewish scrap dealers. As for HVAC, I know at least three HVAC guys who are orthodox Jews, and quite a few Jewish plumbers, including a first cousin of mine.

BTW, it doesn't get any whiter than a pasty Ashkenazim Jew. They are practically translucent

In Europe they said we were swarthy, had kinky hair, and screwed their women. If Arabs are considered to be brown, can Jews at least be beige?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Leftists love quotas. Until the quotas impact them and their friends. Then quotas are MEAN.

Leftists think all their ideas are great until they have to implement them.

Defund the police and pass the popcorn. So long as no one but Leftists get hurt, it's a comedy.