The One-Party Orthodoxy of Equity and Anti-Racism

For many years now, I have attempted an open and thoughtful dialogue about equity and inclusion with members of my college community and with colleagues in my field of Learning Assistance. This occurred in the recent past when I worked at a large urban community college, where I served as a founding member of the college’s first equity committee and helped shepherd a landmark equity plan through the academic senate. As recently as 2015, the focus of all the efforts related to equity was to support disproportionately impacted (DI) students. The equity plan I helped write demonstrated demographic disparities in everything from successful completion (earning a passing grade in a single class) to graduation rates. Not all the recommended strategies for closing the DI gaps were ideas I could get behind, but in these early years, there was never any blaming or casting aspersions on either the college or the DI students themselves. We didn’t diagnose why some students were DI—we simply wrote and presented a document that identified gaps and proposed reasonable solutions. For example, we identified that male students were (and still are) enrolling in college and graduating at lower rates than female students, so male students were designated DI and in need of one or more interventions.

It wasn’t long after the newly formed equity committee at my former institution was established that the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California became a paid consultant. In place of identifying an exact equity (exact as an adjective: characterized by accurate measurements or inferences with small margins of error) CUE exacted equity (exact as a verb: to demand and obtain by force or authority). When this shift occurred, I asked frequent, public, and, I believe, thoughtful questions about the nature and purpose of this new, forced equity. I asked why the college was only and always to blame and why no shortcomings of the students could even be considered as a possible cause of under-preparedness. The answer, I came to learn, was really no answer at all. Rather, I discovered that no person who questions the equity movements’ methods is deserving of an answer. You see, to the equitycrats, those who believe the claims of the equity movement are true on their face, anyone who denies their fundamental, self-evident truths are the equivalent of flat-Earthers who still believe the sun revolves around the Earth. These true believers imagine that this new authoritative equity is something of an irreducible minimum—it is so plainly obvious and foundational that it cannot be questioned. To do so is to display one’s privilege at best, or racism at worst.

I provide this background to ask these two crucial questions: first, exactly how did the equity advocates become equity disciples, especially in higher education, where theories are to be tested, debated, and critiqued? Second, how could complex, sociological, and philosophical assertions be defended by simply doubling down on more assertions? The answer to both of these questions is that the disciples of equity, the true believers, have adopted an intellectual scaffolding and a set of presuppositions that only allow for one opinion. The equity disciples will not even entertain the thought that there may be weaknesses in their dogma, so why would they allow any room for debate, let alone critique? In fact, not even disinterested scholarly inquiry is allowed contra equity because it has the potential to result in opinions that fall outside the party line. To use religious language to explain this phenomenon, the presuppositions that drive equity require one to be either a believer or heretic. And we all know what happens to heretics!

More recently, I’ve been plain-spoken regarding my concerns about anti-racism, the all-or-nothing idea popularized by Ibram X. Kendi in the book, How to be an Antiracist.  I’ve written articles, here and here, and have requested a long-form scholarly discussion at my college which would enhance the college’s current 80-person Zoom discussion on Professor Kendi’s book. I’ve attempted to engage the topic and my colleagues with an academic, professional approach. I’ve tried to be objective and courteous, and to ask and offer thoughtful questions and answers. Along the way, I’ve listened and learned about “lived experiences” and microaggressions, but there is still no allowance critical dialogue, and this at the very institutions where students are taught how to engage in intellectual debate without fear of censorship or retaliation. Again and again, I have been told—explicitly or implicitly over the last six years—that no alternative solutions can be proffered. Again and again, I only hear assertions made without sufficient factual backing, and there is never opportunity for rebuttal. In fact, to offer a counterclaim is to sooner or later be called uninformed, insensitive, or, the final shut down of all inquiry, a racist. In the interest of transparency, I have yet to be called a racist, but I have been called a bigot and was once accused of “tone policing.”

So, this brings me to a final question: for what other subject or issue on campus, whether curricular, programmatic, or operational, are assertions made with little substantiating data, all while allowing virtually no rebuttal or counter claims? The answer is there is no other topic. Even the once-ubiquitous SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) used by every department or division for a variety of planning purposes was open to transparent qualitative and quantitative analyses and free-ranging dialogue.

So here we are. Six years of attempted dialogue and six years of assertions based on assumptions. I’m left with only one summary statement explaining it all: The disciples of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Decolonization (DIED), as well as those of anti-racism, believe we must:

demand adherence;

deny debate; and

demonize questioners

In my less than 50 but more than 40 years of life, with 18 years working in higher education, I have learned that anything protected from critique cannot itself stand up to scrutiny. And since scrutiny of the assumptions and assertions of DIED and anti-racism are not allowed and do not occur, a one-party orthodoxy is the result—an equity totalitarianism. And that is where we are 6 years after my first good-willed inquiry about the changing nature of the equity movement. We have a one-party orthodoxy. I said above that only one opinion is allowed when certain intellectual scaffolding is adopted. This intellectual scaffolding is the theological underpinning of DIED and anti-racism teachings. And what constitutes the theoretical underpinnings of DIED and anti-racism? It is Critical Race Theory, the root system of a barren and cursed tree that will bear no figs.


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Ray M. Sanchez

Ray M. Sanchez is Faculty Coordinator of Academic Success Centers at Madera Community College in Madera, California. He has a M.A. in History from CSU, Fresno. He may be contacted at ray.sanchez@scccd.edu.

4 thoughts on “The One-Party Orthodoxy of Equity and Anti-Racism

  1. The author is absolutely correct when he says the D & I advocates always blame the system. Why do many blacks and hispanics do poorly in college? Well, it can’t be the student. Oh no. It can’t possibly be that, despite having a high school diploma, their actual education level is what 50 years ago was considered an 8th grade education. There can only be one answer to their poor academic preparation: the colleges are at fault. The colleges have not provided enough compassion and understanding. The colleges are steeped in systemic racism. More services, more funding targeting these students. More critical race theory seminars and training for the faculty and staff. Yeah, that will do the trick.

    Why do many Americans of asian lineage do well in college? Culture. They value educational achievement. Why do many black Americans do poorly in college? Culture. They do not value education achievement. It’s hard to properly prepare for college when your friends tell you studying is “acting white”. It’s hard to prepare for college when the educational establishment tells you poor academic performance is perfectly okay. (Case in point is in Oregon where now getting the correct answer to a math problem is considered white supremacy.)

    As with virtually all leftist “solutions” the wrong target is attacked. D & I initiatives will never solve black and hispanic under-achievement in college because they don’t address the root cause: culture. And they weren’t designed to do so, either.

    1. “…despite having a high school diploma, their actual education level is what 50 years ago was considered an 8th grade education.”

      Patti, it’s actually far worse than that.

      First, look at DC’s Dunbar High School — a Black-only segregated school which — despite racism unimaginable today — produced academic champions. Almost all of its teachers had graduate degrees (in the 1950s when many teachers only had a 2-year teaching degree) and many had doctorates in their fields. Now compare that to any inner city school today.

      When Massachusetts instituted a basic math competency test for prospective teachers a while back, 76% of them flunked it. Yes, 76% of “classroom-ready” teachers flunked it….

      In the first half of the 20th Century, 94% of the Black children in Harlem had a mother and father both living together with them under the same roof — and most of the 6% were cases where a parent had died. Compare that to today’s Black illegitimacy rate which is something like 76%. And that’s at birth, with a lot of fathers (e.g Barrack Obama’s) abandoning their families later.

      And then there is the church. Protestant churches, particularly the Baptist & Congregational, stress childhood literacy because of the theological belief that an individual’s ability to read the Bible is an essential prerequisite for salvation. And the King James Bible requires a college-level reading ability to comprehend.

      So you had clergy and church elders helping young Black men learn to read — which you don’t have now because they are not going to church.

      For a good illustration of the differences between now and then, look at the oration of the rioting prisoners at Attica. Ignore both the riot and the content of their speeches (regardless of what you think about both) and instead look at their sentence construction and word usage — those guys were literate.

      How many Black college students today could write or even read a speech that complex — and those guys didn’t even have notes — and they likely only had an 8th grade education.

      We have a real crisis in this country — it’s too many children (of all races) (a) being sent to schools that suck and (b) not having family/community resources that even value education, let alone are willing to help teach the children.

      The boys consider “adulthood” when they either have to do time in an adult jail and/or father a child, and girls consider “adulthood” when they get pregnant because then they can get the public assistance (Section 8, etc.) in their own name and no longer that of their mother. It’s truly sad…

  2. “It is Critical Race Theory, the root system of a barren and cursed tree that will bear no figs.”

    There is also the soft bigotry of low expectations — which I actually think is worse.

    Critical Race Theory accepts the presumption that minorities are unable to acquire the skills they lack — which they were never taught because their schools suck* — and instead seeks to condemn society for expecting people to have these skills.

    “Math is racist” — instead of teaching math (the Booker T. Washington/George Washington Carver approach), we are to dismiss it. Well, math is important — I want the engineer designing a bridge to be able to properly calculate the loads on it because when I’m crossing said bridge, I’d prefer to have it not collapse under me.

    And I’d also like him/her/it able to explain the specifications and installation procedures well enough for the contractors to be able to understand them. Case in point the new Tappen Zee Bridge where a whole bunch of bolts appear to have been installed improperly, making them likely to snap off. Again, having bridges that don’t collapse is a good thing — a racially neutral good thing…

    Post Civil War there was a debate between Booker T. and WEB DuBois over how to bring the freed slaves into American society. Booker T supported education while DuBois supported government fiats. (I am way oversimplifying this.)

    Well, the Critical Race Theorists are students of DuBois — and that is how we get to where we are. CRT is nothing new, it evolved from the Critical Legal Theory of the early 1990, and those folks very much were students of DuBois’ radicalism.

    And Communism. Let us not forget that DuBois joined the Communist Party USA in 1961, at the height of the Cold War, and then renounced his US citizenship, dying as a citizen of Ghana. CRT is very much influenced by Communism….

    * Not mentioned in the debate over charter schools is how incredibly popular they are with Black parents and the efforts that the Black parents expend to get their kids into these charter schools. It says something about the union-run urban schools…

  3. “…male students were (and still are) enrolling in college and graduating at lower rates than female students…”

    Off topic, I know, but as to this — I would suggest looking at the US Dept of Ed’s “National Assessment of Education Progress” (NAEP) and the “boy gap” in literacy & language arts areas, e.g. reading. It’s bigger than the “girl gap” in STEM areas, and unlike that, the “boy gap” really isn’t closing.

    Extrapolated to higher education, it shows that male students have less proficiency in the very reading & writing skills that one needs to succeed in college. And while the NAEP doesn’t break data down on *both* race and sex, there is no reason to believe that the sex deficits within racial categories remain. I strongly suspect are worse.

    And for every Black male in college, there are TWO Black females — and that’s just *in* college and not graduating from it. And no one dares mention *this*…

    Or that the average Black high school *graduate* has the reading and writing ability of the average 7th grade White female….

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