On Friday’s broadcast of HBO’s “Real Time,” Columbia University Professor and New York Times newsletter author John McWhorter argued that “equity” is a “sneaky, terrible” “weasel word” for “bringing people into positions that they’re not qualified for yet” and that doing so is “dehumanizing” and “diversity and equity” are just new terms for tokenism.
McWhorter said the difference between equity and equality “is a truly sneaky, terrible thing. Equity is this wormy word, the idea is that you’re going to have equality by forcing the issue, by bringing people into positions that they’re not qualified for yet so that everything looks ‘like America.’ So, it sounds like equality and you say equity and you figure it’s the same thing, but it’s a euphemism. They’re trying to slip in without letting you know that it’s going to be equality accomplished in a way that you probably wouldn’t like. It’s like if you say to somebody, ‘well, before I let you go,’ and you say that to them and they didn’t say that they wanted to be let go, really you just want to get rid of them. Or if you talk about diversity, well, imagine talking to Franklin D. Roosevelt about diversity. When we say diversity, what we mean is changing standards for various reasons for black and Latino and sometimes Native American people. That’s what diversity means. You just don’t want to say it. Equity means that you force equality and you kind of weasel your way through it. And so, it’s like you take the word equality and you kind of knock the ‘al’ out of it.”
He continued, “And the people who do this think that that’s the right thing because they are on the side of the angels and we have to have this fake equality. And what it means is this: This DEI, it’s not an accident that DEI is the first three letters of deity. These people think of themselves as gods. None of this is an accident. So, that’s what equity means…it’s a weasel word.”
McWhorter added that pushing for change is needed, but “if you force it to that extent that you say that next week, everything has to be equal — what it comes down to is this: What that does to, for example, black people, is that you go through an entire life knowing that nothing that you’ve been asked to do, nothing that you’ve been granted can be completely separated from the fact that somebody wasn’t thinking about the fact you were a pretty color and it would make them look good to bring you in. You spend your whole life that way, yes that does include me. That is something that we have to think about with these sorts of policies where you force it really quickly and you drag people in to be what used to be called — what happened to the term ‘token black?’ Remember, we used to say that. Now, it’s called diversity and equity. It won’t do. So, yes, but you can’t do it too much, too fast, or you’re dehumanizing everybody but white people.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett
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