Subsidizing Failure

Glen Loury and John McWhorter’s most recent conversation is about the consequences of present diversity, equity, and inclusion policies for black Americans. I’m not sure they arrive at any conclusion other than that there’s a lot we don’t know. Here are some snippets from their conversation.

After remarking on some of the cultural underpinnings of the strong performance in certain activities of young Asians:

But just to say, there are behavioral and cultural foundations for these differences in in group performance.


We’ve created a regime where the message that we send out to students of color is, you can be okay but not absolutely great, and you still can have a pretty good chance of getting admitted to our program. The idea that that would not affect people’s behavior, I think, is just contrary to common sense. How much is a question that would have to be studied, but the incentives here are not entirely healthy.


Just this final point. It’s not equality when you create a special dispensation for blacks and then look the other way at their relatively poor performance after admission. That’s condescension. That’s not really equality.


Shelby Steele has a passage in one of his books where he says something along the lines of, “We exempt black students from serious competition and then wonder why they’re never qualified for it.” And that’s exactly it. They never seem to hit the highest note, but then again, they’re not required to.


But yeah, it’s a kind of condescension, and all of it is where you get Carol Kelley. It’s where you get Ibram Kendi. All of these people who are very comfortable with the idea of saying that if black kids aren’t good at it, it’s racist, and therefore let’s get rid of it, even for other students. And when you fight against this ideology, you’re told that you’re a racist, you’re an Uncle Tom, that you just don’t get it. But what is the “it” to get? And the society that these people want to create is one that I really would not be interested in participating in. I worry about my children going out into this society. I’m just waiting for them to start being treated as these tokens of diversity. And it’s not the way things should go. Ugh.

There’s one matter they don’t touch on. There are presently roughly 2 million black sub-Saharan African immigrants to the U. S. and another couple of million black Haitian and Jamaican immigrants. Most are working age. On average they have higher levels of educational attainment than native-born blacks.

Employers preferentially hire sub-Saharan Africans and Caribbean black immigrants over native-born blacks for educational and cultural reasons. They don’t have the baggage that the group that the late sociologist Charles Moskos called “Afro-Americans”, i.e. native-born black Americans, the descendants of slaves, do. Consequently, the net effect of DEI programs is to subsidize the importation of sub-Saharan and Caribbean workers while consigning Afro-Americans to hopelessness in crime-ridden inner cities. It’s a perverse policy.

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