“Diversity” Rests on Racialist Assumptions

the poison of identity politics

Sometimes the utter intellectual hollowness of a program is most clearly revealed by its unctuous but unwitting advocates. A perfect example is “Fostering Diversity on Campus to Strengthen Maine’s Healthcare System,” which the University of New England actually paid to have published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The advertorial begins with a profile of Samuel Acha, a UNE graduate and nurse practitioner for three rural Maine jails. Mr. Acha grew up poor in Cameroon and came to the United States when he was 31 with only $40 in his pocket. After learning that his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cameroon were of little help, he applied himself diligently and with scholarship and other help managed to get through nursing school and to his current position.

His is a classic American success story, and, as Dora Anne Mills, UNE’s vice president for clinical affairs, suggests, it could provide strong support for a traditional view of the value of diversity. “Samuel is an example of how crucial diversity is to UNE’s public health mission,” she states. “In order to provide health care professionals for Northern New England — a largely rural, largely Caucasian region — we recruit and educate people from around the world and from many backgrounds. So, increasing diversity is just something that has happened organically as we’ve recruited talented students.”

Since Maine is classified as a health workforce shortage area, I suspect Mainers in need of medical attention care much more about getting good (or any) practitioners than where they come from. Even so, Ms. Mills’ point would be fine — if she stopped there. But since UNE “is committed to attracting students from different backgrounds, nurturing an inclusive campus community, and providing a more diverse health care workforce for the state,” she, of course, did not. “Research shows,” she claims, “that minority populations have better health outcomes when they are cared for by health professionals with similar backgrounds.”

Whether or not that is true, it is preposterous to suggest that the arrival of Mr. Acha (then 31-years-old) and Maine’s African Americans have “similar backgrounds.” Nor do two other UNE graduates profiled in the article: Jeyashree (Jai) Boardway, a 2018 graduate of UNE’s physician assistant program, “was born in India in 1974 into a privileged life”; and Richard Agbortoko, who received a doctorate in pharmacy from UNE in 2013 and who was born in Boston but moved back to Cameroon with his parents shortly after his birth, returning to the U.S. when he was 16.

Thus, it is apparent that what the University of New England, like the rest of diversity-infatuated higher education, means by “diversity” is skin color, a notion resting on the racialist assumption that in important respects dark-skinned people are fungible.

Finally, even if it is true that Maine’s African Americans would have “better health outcomes” if treated by medical professionals from Cameroon or India because of the magical effects of skin color, only 2% of Maine’s population is African American. Thus, UNE seems inordinately fixated on what is at best a minor underrepresentation problem (if that is a problem): that, as Ms. Mills points out with grave concern, “only 0.1 percent of Maine’s physicians and 0.1 percent of Maine’s nurses identify as African-American.”

Given the shortage of healthcare workers of whatever color, it would seem that UNE’s fixation on “diversity” is out of all proportion to any problem promoting it could solve. Instead of devoting all its funds and efforts to recruiting and training the best people, it now must spend time and effort gazing at its own diverse navel, “trying to connect its students to each other.”

For example, “Erica Rousseau, the university’s director for intercultural student engagement, coordinates workshops and seminars to help students and professors from all backgrounds, cultures, belief systems, and sexual orientations understand each other.”

Good for UNE, and good for them. But is that really what’s best for Maine’s underserved healthcare-needing citizens?

John S. Rosenberg

John S. Rosenberg

John Rosenberg blogs at Discriminations.

14 thoughts on ““Diversity” Rests on Racialist Assumptions

  1. I suggest that whites in Maine demand white doctors and nurses, since “patients have better outcomes when treated by others of similar background”. We have to out-Alinsky the Leftists when they rear their ugly heads like this. We must continually point out their racism and double standards because you just KNOW that if a white patient where to demand the same things, they’d be called racist.

    1. Even as a POC, that was my first thought too. The second one, unfortunately was that this UNE VP, is a shape shifting protoplasm — given the lack of self awareness

    2. Well, then there is Samantha Paradis, the quite colorful mayor of Belfast, Maine.
      She has a Masters of Public Health from UNE and I believe that UNE has the only Nursing Practitioner program in Maine.

      She may have picked potatoes as a girl, but she’s not reflective of the culture of “The County” and a demand for a White nurse or doctor would get someone like her. This is the point I am making about “culturally sensitive” — it’s the collective effect of all of this stuff and the collective attack on the cultural & social values of the patients whom UNE is purportedly training these people to serve.

      It’s far more than mere racism, or sexism, or heterophobia — it’s an attempt to subvert a culture, nothing less….

  2. If anyone cited research showing that the white majority population has better health outcomes when they are cared for by health professionals with similar backgrounds, it would be deemed outrageous bigotry. The white majority would be exhorted to ignore the disparity of health outcomes for the sake of “diversity”, and their children at local universities would be compelled to confront their original sin in struggle sessions set up by grievance-studies professors. Diversity only ever means anti-white.

  3. An important question would ask how they’re going after the low-hanging fruit in Maine. Since it’s overwhelmingly white, it seems like it would be much easier to shore up the numbers of health care providers by taking a look at UNE’s recruiting strategies in general. They appear to have a lot of white people laying around. Why are those people choosing to go into health care in Maine?

    1. 30-40 years ago, this is exactly what UNE was doing. They even had some program where small towns could vote to use their property tax money to pay for a local person to go down there to get a medical degree with the understanding that the graduate would come back and practice in the local area. Sometimes they would pay for a local nurse practitioner to go down to UNE’s School of Osteopathic Medicine and get a DO (similar to MD) degree with the understanding that the person would return to practice medicine in their town(s).

      As UNE now “recruit[s] and educate[s] people from around the world and from many backgrounds”, my guess is that they aren’t recruiting the local kids anymore — and thus the local people, who could serve their remote communities best, are being denied the opportunity to do so.

  4. What exactly would be the difference between having a person of color as a doctor and having a person of pallor as a doctor?

    If, thanks to diversity-worship, it was more difficult and expensive to find the minority to recruit as doctor, and there is a shortage of doctors, perhaps we are actually causing deaths by focusing on diversity instead of simply recruiting any interested doctors without considering race.

    I just really wonder what we are doing by considering diversity so important instead of focusing single-mindedly on brains and interests as was done previously.

  5. Immigrants to America should be made to understand, in no uncertain terms, that it is they who need to learn the ways of their new home, and to adapt to them, not the other way around: those of us already here, citizens and residents alike, need learn nothing about the ways back home of the immigrants, or even to display the slightest interest in those ways. When in Rome.

  6. Good points but the diversity idea and its advocates are impervious to facts. Indeed, facts can be racist if they do not align with the narrative. Belief in the benefits of diversity is far more like a mystery religion.

  7. “Finally, even if it is true that Maine’s African Americans would have “better health outcomes” if treated by medical professionals from Cameroon or India because of the magical effects of skin color, only 2% of Maine’s population is African American.”

    Until recently*, the vast majority of whom are retired military or their dependents, mostly USAF. Maine had a lot of bases because of its proximity to both Europe and the North Pole — both Dow (Bangor) and Loring were SAC Bomber bases, and the Navy flew P3-Orions out of Brunswick searching for Soviet subs. To this day, military flights that don’t land in Bangor for refueling are usually refueled out over the ocean by the Maine Air National Guard.

    Retired military personnel have pensions, they (and their dependents) have **Tricare, most have college degrees — in a relatively poor state like Maine, they are definitely upper-middle class. And what, exactly, does a retired B-52 pilot have in common with someone from Cameroon?

    “Jeyashree (Jai) Boardway, a 2018 graduate of UNE’s physician assistant program, “was born in India in 1974 into a privileged life”

    I once had a Cardiologist from a similar background who couldn’t understand why I ate the “Dollar Menu” at McDonalds instead of the arguably healthier (but vastly more expensive) meal of a fancy restaurant. This is the “cultural literacy” of which so much is made — and so much is being missed…..

    While UNE technically is in Biddeford, it is literally on the Kennebunkport town line — 70 minutes from Boston and a world away from the underserved areas of Northern Maine. (I-95 extends 278 miles further North before crossing into Canada, with much of Aroostook County being even further NorthWest of that.) Frostbite’s a real issue up there — it isn’t in Biddeford Pool….

    And this is the bigger issue — Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are de-facto doctors While they technically are supposed to be supervised by a MD (much as graduate teaching assistants are supposed to be supervised by a professor), reality is that they increasingly are the closest thing to a “Doctor” that the patient ever sees. Much like the TA is the only “Professor” whom the student ever sees….

    And in an underserved area — particularly one where it is not uncommon for the nearest supermarket to be 40 miles away*** — it often is a Faustian choice between receiving care from this particular person and receiving no care at all. Above and beyond the insurance bureaucratic mess of changing practitioners, there often isn’t another one to change to, it’s this person or no one.

    And the “diversity” that is inherently lacking in all “diversity” programs is diversity of viewpoints. I don’t think I’m going too far to say that it includes an indoctrination of leftist viewpoints which are not universally shared by the country as a whole — and definitely not in a rural, socially conservative culture.

    Guns come to mind — as late as the 1980’s, it was considered perfectly acceptable for a high school student to be late to school once a week during deer season — as long as he made up the missed work. In much of Maine, it is still considered perfectly acceptable to store a rifle or shotgun behind the kitchen door — as long as it’s unloaded (with the ammunition on the kitchen table). Much like in Switzerland, children are taught not to touch them — and don’t!

    A lot of retired military personnel collect weapons, and some have fully automatic ones (true “machine guns”) for which they are properly licensed by the ATF. In some cases, these are “war trophies” which they (or a parent) captured in combat and brought home. In others, they have been passed down within the family — it’s not uncommon for veterans to have Civil War weaponry on display in their homes.

    Compare this to the attitude of guns held in other venues — and not just mandatory trigger locks and gun safes, but the concept of a gun in the home being a medical concern. And the Faustian choice of letting a medical professional sharing those views have authority over you (and your family) or going without medical care…

    And then there are all the other social values, the “*isms”, the changing definition of both marriage and sex itself (Maine now permits a sex of “X” on drivers licenses), not to mention religion itself.

    That’s what is truly scary about this — it’s using the genuine need for medical care to enforce a political and social agenda.

    ————–
    * The exception being the Somali refugees being resettled in Lewistion and elsewhere.

    ** Tricare is a form of health insurance.

    *** It is not uncommon for a State Trooper in Northern Maine to have a patrol area larger than the entire State of Rhode Island — the state is that big and that rural.

    1. Beliefs aren’t all made equal. When medical doctors come out, say, to advocate for tighter gun restrictions because of the mountains of evidence suggesting that doing so will lead to better health outcomes, that’s on wholly different footing from someone who has an emotional attachment to their guns.

      If someone really distrusts the expertise of physicians, then they’re free to trust their own opinions on their healthcare.

      1. It’s not fair or accurate to suggest that gun owners are merely “emotionally attached” to their guns. I have guns for hunting, an outdoor leisure activity that I’ve enjoyed all my adult life. It’s good for both my mental health and physical health to get out into the Maine woods for a long walk in November. I also have a handgun for home/self defense. Fortunately, despite Maine’s very high gun ownership rates, we have among the lowest violent crime rates in the US (are doctors aware of this?) so I realize I’m very unlikely to need it, but it’s a nice insurance policy “just in case” one of our few violent criminals decides to target me or mine. Since all of these weapons are kept under lock and key when not being used by me (only), and the handgun usually kept in a biometric safe that requires my fingerprint to open, they pose less of a potential health risk to me or anyone else than does my table saw that’s kept in my unlocked garage or even my iron garden rake that’s leaning up against the wall. My guns are a source of outdoor recreation and increase my safety.

        Other guns with other owners may have more potential health risks, but I’d appreciate it if doctors consider me and my well cared for guns before advocating for additional laws “aimed” at irresponsible owners or “warlike looking” guns that function exactly like my deer rifle does.

        Doctors study the human body and various diseases and conditions and how to treat them, but have no training at all in the proper care or use of guns. Just like everyone else, they have their own, varying personal opinions about guns, but in their professional capacity they should stick to what they know best and have been trained to do, and thats not trying to guess which tool In my garage or in my gun safe poses the greater risk to me or anyone else.

      2. Nichole, thank you for proving my argument – you actually state that someone who disagrees with physicians’ opinion on guns should “trust ther own opinions on their healthcare.”

        In other words, I should be denied blood pressure medications because I disagree with the medical community on gun ownership? Is there any logical relationship between the two??? (Hunting involves hiking through the woods, i.e. physical exercise, which I’m told actually is conductive of a beneficial health outcome….)

        Conversely, there is a great deal of statistical evidence indicating higher morbidity and mortality amongst the LBGTQ community — and not just from AIDS and Hepatitis. Should LBGTQ members be denied healthcare on this basis? Deny someone treatment for high blood pressure because he is gay?

        Which goes to the point I was trying to make — Rural Maine is culturally different from Manhattan, and if your goal is to provide medical care, you need to have practitioners who are culturally sensitive. Culturally sensitive to the culture which they purport to serve.

        I mean, like, you don’t have to worry about hitting a moose driving through Manhattan, do you? It’s a real risk in parts of Maine…

      3. Another example of how different Maine is from Manhattan: the “City” of Caribou, Maine is 80 square miles, nearly four times the size of Manhattan — and has only 7,736 people. And maybe two police cars…

        Hence, when someone is breaking into your house at 3:24 AM, after calling the police, it makes perfect sense to go confront the perp with your gun and hold him there until the police officer (most likely just one) shows up, See: http://bangordailynews.com/2018/12/06/news/aroostook/maine-homeowner-holds-intruder-at-gunpoint-until-police-arrive/

        I realize that Manhattan is different, but there are parts of Maine where police can’t even get to until the next morning as airplanes can’t land on unlit (dirt) runways before dawn.

        This, even more than anything else, is what UNE does not understand.

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