Monday, April 15, 2024

DEI, Charlamagne, and Racist Confusion

Charlamagne The God did a stint on The Daily Show, and got a whole lot of positive right wing attention--positive attention--for one segment.

That segment was six and a half minutes about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs, and it was sharp and smart.  He talked about its corporate roots from way back in 2020, then noted the more recent right-wing attempts to blame everything bad in the world on it, like the clever folks who say that DEI stands for "Didn't Earn It." And then...

These right wingers are crazy, right? But here's the part where y'all stop applauding everything I say. The truth about DEI is that although it's well-intentioned, it's mostly garbage, okay? It's kind of like the Black Little Mermaid." Just because racists hate it doesn't mean it's good.

He went on to compare it to DARE programs, which actually made things worse, saying that DEI programs can create racist backlash in organizations. And he pointed at bad reasons for corporations to adopt such programs, noting that having a DEI program on the books can help provide a company with protection from civil rights lawsuits, even if the program is ineffective. "It's the 'I have a Black friend' of the legal system."

Conservatives hopped on the bit, with pieces like this one from Peter Laffin at the Washington Examiner. Laffin's contention is that conservatives have long made Charlamagne's point that corporate DEI programs are ineffective and fuel disharmony. Conservatives should go ahead and say "I told you so."

So, I guess, DEI programs are both ineffective and change nothing AND are super powerful and put unqualified non-White folks into positions of power. I suppose this is line with other simultaneously-held beliefs like the idea that Joe Biden is both a doddering senile fool AND a clever mastermind darkly and deliberately destroying America. 

Conservative commentators did not mention a couple of other points that Charlamagne made in his piece, such as the observation that one thing DEI programs have been good at is "giving racist white people cover to be openly racist." Laffin says that the "colorblind" approach is clearly best, but how colorblind is Charlie Kirk being when he says that seeing a Black pilot will make him question if that pilot is qualified.

DEI done right is not anti-merit. It's not about jettisoning merit in order to make a minority hire. It's broadening your search for merit so that you look in places that you haven't always thought to look in the past. For instance, the US Catholic Church, for whom Laffin often writes, has around 35,000 priests in the US (and a priest shortage). Of those, about 250 are Black. A DEI program might lead to asking why that is, and asking whether God's just not calling Black guys in the US, or if the Catholic Church is doing a lousy job catching those Black men of faith who get the call. 

I get Charlamagne's point about corporate DEI, which I have on occasion called "one more brand of corporate bullshit" and "part of that grand tradition of programs designed to get corporate leadership to pretend to act like decent human beings even if they aren't so inclined." And education, which is where failed corporate programs go to die, doesn't need that kind of baloney. But actual diversity, equity and inclusion? Yes, please. You can watch the full clip below.

1 comment:

  1. Quelle lecture captivante ! J'apprécie vraiment la façon dont cet article explore le sujet. J'attends avec impatience de découvrir d'autres publications sur des thématiques semblables.