Antagonized by the discrimination now accepted by faculty and others, simply because it had been christened “affirmative action” and “diversity,” I wrote a letter to the editor of the student newspaper, The Summit, in the Fall of 1996, expressing my opposition to affirmative action and the Diversity Agenda.
The article (titled “Negative on affirmative action”) appears below.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
If one of my white/European/Anglo students were to say that he or she can't relate to an African-American, Asian, or Latino teacher—and this teacher is one who cares about and is sensitive to the student, one who teaches the subject skillfully and with expertise—then shame on that student. I would never recommend hiring more white teachers to match the percent of white students.
Yet some faculty and administrators actually argue that a “student of color” cannot relate to members of the “Anglo power structure.” Apparently they believe that for us to forge a “sense of connection” with another person, our skin color must match. How, then, can millions of us of every color admire persons such as Michael Jordan or Colin Powell? Like all virtues, the human qualities required of a great teacher—skill, knowledge, empathy, honesty, character, love—leap the boundaries of the DNA that determine skin pigment.
I advise hiring faculty on the basis of competence and character alone. Others, because they seek “diversity,” demand that we hire more faculty “of color” to match the percent of “students of color.” Apparently, where I look out at my classes and see unique individuals, they see racial blocks. Who, in fact, is bringing race into this?
Those who ask, “What is there about diversity you are afraid of?” have sadly missed the point. One might respond: Why are you afraid to let the skin be transparent so that the person's competence and character alone show through?
Why don't we seek “diversity” when we choose a brain surgeon? a rocket scientist? an Olympic athlete? Why not require “diversity” of our auto mechanics? What would have been the outcome of World War II if instead of seeking the best atomic scientists we sought “diversity,” rejecting Albert Einstein because we had already met our quota of “white European males?” Why not require “diversity” in professional basketball, so that the skin color of basketball players matches its proportional representation in the population?
The answer: First, because we want the “best,” and we don't get the best when we consider the amount of melanin in the skin. Skin pigment and gender are irrelevant to quality. You know that. I know that. So let's get on with it. Second, because we must—here and now, before it is too late—root out any practice that suggests that skin color matters. The same discrimination that favors the hiring of one group today can favor the hiring of a different group tomorrow. Discrimination for is always discrimination against.
This search for “diversity,” when put into practice, turns into discrimination in hiring. Let's stop calling it perfume when it smells like a skunk. Percentage-driven, quota-based “affirmative action” hiring doesn't consider the neighborhood where the person grew up. It doesn't measure the person's social class. It isn't based on the person's knowledge. It knows nothing of the person's ability to relate to students, to love them, or to excite them with the subject matter. These aren't found in the demographic data these people are trying to match. This goal called “diversity,” put in plain language, means skin color and gender preference.
A student of mine, by all appearances a white male, recently mentioned that he was half Asian. “Should I check 'Asian',” he asked, or “'Other' when I seek admission to a school or apply for a job?” He explained that if he checks “Other” it could appear that he is ashamed of being Asian. But if he checks “Asian” and the school or job has too many “Asians,” then it could damage his chances of being accepted or hired. It hurts me deeply that he is burdened with this question. A Latino male student told me the other day that he never wants a job that he doesn't earn by his own hard work, so he always checks “Other” on application forms. I am sickened that our society encumbers him with this choice. An African-American female, a former student, said that she wants no part of a job that hires her because her skin is black. She, like these two comrades she doesn't even know, wants only what she has earned. She is the future.
I salute these thoughtful, courageous students. Like those of an earlier generation, they have learned to peacefully subvert an evil system. I love them for their integrity. I am honored and humbled to be their teacher.
The Summit (Grossmont College). Sept. 26, 1996. Vol. 9, No. 4. Pg. 2.