Anyone who doubts that affirmative action stigmatizes those who receive it should read — in fact, be required to read — “Not Just a Diversity Number” at Inside Higher Ed. The author is identified only as “an assistant professor at a liberal arts college,” and the fact that Prof. Anonymous is afraid to sign his or her name speaks volumes about how much the “diversity” regime and its defenders appreciate diversity of thought.
Prof. Anonymous’s indictment of “diversity” is incisive, biting, and personal. “While faculty who do not add to the ‘diversity’ of a campus can claim that their presence on campus is a testament to their own intellectual accomplishments,” Prof. Anon. writes, “faculty of color too often are made to feel that our presence on our campus is a testament to the institution’s diversity accomplishments.”
Instead of seeing us for everything that we bring to the job, we are seen simply as “diversity candidates.” So while the presidents, provosts, and deans pad their CVs with the successful “diversity initiatives” they have launched on their campuses to propel themselves to the next rung on the administrative ladder, we, the supposed benefactors of the “diversity initiative,” are left trying to survive in an environment where our colleagues see us as less worthy and less able. …. We should be more than our skin color, our sexual orientation, or our country of origin. We should be more than a checked category, a percentage, or an initiative. Unfortunately, we’re not.
For all his or her resentment at being as invisible as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, at being stigmatized as a “diversity candidate,” Prof. Anonymous’s actual criticism of race-based preferential treatment turns out to be as tepid as soggy toast. “It is not that I am opposed to colleges diversifying,” Anon insists. “Quite the contrary! Faculty of color wouldn’t be seen as rare and exotic species if college campuses were more diversified and more integrated…. What I am opposed to, however, is all the talk and emphasis that administrators put on our diversity to the detriment and outright neglect of everything else we bring to the table.”
Anon, alas, fails to see that the problem is not the talk about “diversity” but the walk. “Diversifying” at its core entails hiring some people who would not have been hired but for their color, which inevitably leads more than a few of their pale peers to conclude not only reasonably, but accurately, that more than a few of their colleagues were hired because of their color, or perhaps because they really are viewed as different. As one defender of preferences asserted in a comment, “Minorities bring certain skills, character traits and styles of thinking to the table that somebody like myself, a straight white guy, cannot possibly bring.” (I can think of several skills that particular straight white guy doesn’t bring.)
Since the problem is the race-based preferences themselves, as Roger Clegg points out in an astute comment on the article, the solution is not to shut up about them but “to stop using them.”