I’m reading a piece from Christopher Rufo. If there was an evil twin of George Lakoff for framing politics, he’d be it. Rufo is livid about DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) education at the University of Houston.
But before I tackle that, an anecdote. Back in the late 80s, I was a professional club musician when something new from Japan came along called “karaoke.” My contemporaries were terrified (correctly) that eventually bars would replace live musicians with live drunks singing poorly to karaoke.
“Yeah,” I agreed, “the shitty ones. The best musicians, though, will always have gigs.” Turns out, I was right. There are no more 6-night, 2-week house band gigs at every club anymore for every mediocre bar cover band musician, but stellar players (like my cousin Kenny) still work full-time. It’s just that now he has to be in three working bands.
Anyway, back to Rufo, who breaks down all the shocking details of UH’s DEI:
According to these materials, the university’s DEI department has adopted the basic narrative of critical race theory, arguing that the United States is a “white supremacy system” that “create[s] advantages for whites” and “disadvantages/oppression for people of color.” In this schema, white heterosexual Christians are endowed with “white privilege,” “heterosexual privilege,” and “religious privilege,” while racial and sexual minorities are victims of “racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.”FOX News: University of Houston’s DEI bureaucracy has this unbelievably radical take on ‘diversity’
What?! America favors straight white Christians? Minorities face discrimination? If this shocks Rufo, wait til he hears about how fat, old, ugly, short, disabled, homeless, and formerly incarcerated people are treated in the USA.
Is Rufo really trying to gaslight us to think there’s no racial or sexual prejudice in the USA? Yes, yes he is.
According to one presentation on “Intent vs. Impact,” colorblindness, meritocracy, and hard work are all racist concepts that should be labeled as “color-evasive racism” and the “myth of meritocracy.” What is the result of these microaggressions on racial minorities? “Rage,” “sadness,” “alienation,” “trauma,” “depression,” and “chronic mental issues.”
“Meritocracy” is the idea that we all rise to the top based only on our hard work and dedication. That the systems in America are perfectly fair and you achieved your success all on your own, and those that failed just weren’t as smart and hard-working as you. Which is what you’d want to believe if you’ve risen to the top.
But if USA was a true meritocracy, how would we have studies showing identical resumes get half the callbacks if they display a Black-sounding name (e.g. DeShaun Washington) instead of a white-sounding name (e.g. David Williams)? Why would Black median household income be a tiny fraction of white median household income? How would the CEOs all be overwhelmingly straight white males if only talent and hard work got them there? If we were truly colorblind, economic stats by race would match demographics by race, wouldn’t they? And when they don’t, well, I imagine that’s depressing and rage-inducing for talented, hard-working minorities.
Christopher Rufo, FOX “news,” Donald Trump, the MAGA movement, they’re reacting to America’s growing non-white demographic reality like my 80s bar band contemporaries reacted to the rise of karaoke. When “Chris” only has to compete with “Chad,” “Blake,” and “Trent,” life is a lot easier than if he also has to compete fairly with “Jamaal,” “Hiro,” “Jorge,” “Kenisha,” “Than,” “Arpita,” “Jean-Paul,” “Mbege,” “Xerxes”…
In a sense, they are right about the “Great Replacement.” We’re replacing the systems of fake meritocracy where mediocre straight white men are artificially boosted by entrenched systemic discrimination over more qualified diversity candidates. DEI as I see it is about establishing actual meritocracy and colorblindness.
Which is terrifying when you sense that you’ve gotten where you are not only through hard work and talent, but also through doors that open for you that don’t open for others. Terrifying when you notice most of the low-paid, overworked service workers and field hands working around you don’t look like you and you realize that doesn’t have to be the case.
Talented, intelligent, hard-working straight white males have nothing to fear from DEI. In fact, we will benefit from the extra competition coming from those with vastly different experiences that we have, just as I often benefited playing in bands with musicians more talented than I.
But mediocre straight white men? Yeah, you’re not going to like the future.
P.S. When I went to my Shutterstock account to find a featured image for this post, I asked for “white people working in the fields.” Not surprisingly, every photo that fit that description was from the 1950s or earlier.