This week, Apple’s head of diversity made a big stink by suggesting the topic of diversity has nuance and the pure tokenism of the current policy lacks insight. Her inflammatory quote:
There can be 12 white blue-eyed blonde men in a room and they are going to be diverse, too, because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.
Denise Young Smith had to formally apologize for suggesting the folks with blue eyes and blond hair and a Y chromosomes might not be clones, daring to point out there’re other forms of diversity aside from being a black woman, like herself. She had the temerity to opine that all white men are not the same man! Hersey! Racial stereotyping is bad—unless it comes to racially stereotyping men of European ancestry. They all do and think the same way. Thank God, Harvey Weinstein has helped to remind everyone that all of us are predators laying in wait until we’re able to coerce sex. Each morning, as I slop on Corn Flakes, I mumble racial slurs under my breath and think of new ways I might rape someone.
Back to Denise Young Smith. The Word Police were so dizzy and apoplectic from her first sentence they refused to even hear the rest of Denise Young Smith's point:
"So I focus on everyone, but I also focus on allies and alliances because to DeRay’s point, there’s an incredible amount of power in those who have platforms or those who have the benefit of greater representation to tell the stories of those who do not. So whenever we can accomplish that, then that is a win for everyone."
She’s at diversity and inclusion 2.0 while the angry mob is still reveling in the affirmative action quota model of diversity politics. Diversity quotas are one way to move the needle and it’s been an important strategy for placing numbers of under-represented populations in positions of power. It’s heartening when someone of Asian descent sees another Asian in a leading role on television or in film. I don't question the feeling of empowerment young blacks in Oklahoma must feel when they see a member of their community like J.C. Watts elected to Congress. Or how women of color feel seeing Secretary Condoleezza Rice in a presidential cabinet.
But let’s look at the iconic P.O.C. who’ve been admitted into the corridors of power.
Rice was a member of Carl Rove’s White House under President Bush. It seems moot in the age of Trump but we might remember Bush as the president who Kanye West famously declared, "does not care about black people." Somehow, Condi Rice fit right in with Rove and Bush and Rumsfeld and company. She did come from Stanford, the Ivy League of the West Coast. I know when I think of diversity and inclusiveness and concern for distressed populations, I think of the Ivy League!
J.C. Watts was elected as a Republican and became a Republican because he related to the messages of Oklahoma Senator Don Nickels. Some of Nickels’ strongest policy stances? Deregulate the petroleum industry, eliminate taxes on rich businessmen and investors, no federal support for healthcare.
Do these powerful diversity candidates reflect any true change from the way we run things now? Aside from the amount of melanin in their skin?
How about the current crop? Ben Carson is the head of President Trump’s H.U.D. and famously opined that #BlackLives Matter is an angry group distracting us from what really matters and it's the entertainment industry we have to blame. All Carson needed was a library card, so that's all you should need, too.
What about the African American Milwaukee Sheriff with all the bling medals, David Clarke. He’s a staunch Trump supporter who called Black Lives Matter a terrorist group and mocked the movement by adding Black Lies Matter. Now the right wing wants him to run for Senate.
Here’s what those fixated on race fail to receive: The p.o.c. who make it into the highest echelons are not there because they reflect change. Alleged sexual predator and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, anyone? The minority invited into the room when they’re helping to legitimize the status quo.
Who would you rather have at the platform? Me, with all my pasty skin and white privilege discussing the needs of young people and the black community and women and children and the poor and populations lacking economic opportunities, and rape culture and institutional racism? Or someone with different gender and skin color in a high position of power, like say Omarosa Manigault? Which one of us would move the conversation so it reflects the positive inclusion of diverse groups, me, the fat, entitled white guy or the black woman who is famous for being awful to people on television? Diversity 2.0 is coming. Your quotas only go so far.