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Does Reverse Discrimination Exist?

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:
A situation I have always wondered about is the preponderance of companies that have instituted work-force diversity programs and the conflict of “true work-force diversity” with white privilege. Let me explain. White privilege suggests that as a white executive, my children, nieces, nephews are able to benefit from the legacy of white dominance that has helped me (the white executive) benefit in corporate America.

Now introduce work-force diversity. This notion threatens that legacy. My children, nieces and nephews now have to compete with new “diverse” players that I never had to compete with. Note that I’m not white but am using the first person for effect. In any event, as the “White Guy,” tell me your thoughts about this conflict and how the White Guy feels about this.Thanks for your response.

Many white people perceive a problem (reverse discrimination), but I don’t think it exists.

Considering our changing demographics and globalizing economy, not considering diversity means that a company is going to draw talent from a decreasing pool. This is a losing proposition. Sustainable organizations incorporate the best talent they can find and effectively engage the marketplace as it exists.

Companies on the DiversityInc Top 50 employ 5 percent of the American work force but 17 percent of college educated people of color. They don’t do this to be nice, they’re hiring the mix of people they feel will best help them deal with their business.

White people have more to fear from working for, supplying or investing in a company that ignores diversity than one that embraces it.

Most white people don’t “get it” because they frame the world through their own filters. That’s why you hear white people say things like “I’m colorblind” or “You’re normal” (as a “compliment” to a non-white/straight/non-disabled person).

All people have their own way of looking at things depending on who they are, but the benefit of being white (and straight and without disabilities) is that you never have to consider someone else’s filters.

Most white people go through a good deal of pain and frustration when they see spots they assumed were “theirs” go to people who don’t look like them. I’d say that many (most?) white people think that most people of color in positions of authority are not qualified to hold them.

In my opinion, this is a byproduct of not wanting to face the truth about why things are the way they are. It rubs against white-guy culture, which takes pride in the opinion that everything is a meritocracy. Just listen to Rush Limbaugh for a few days.

I think I’ll pull myself up by my bootstraps and go get some aspirin.



  • Right is Right, and this appears to be unfair. All of the firefighters took the test. To deny someone a promotion because the others candidates did not receive comparable scores is not fair. This is not the message that needs to be out there. Regardless of the race of the individual who passed the test, if the test was deemed to be fair, then the person who passed should not be penalized because of his or her race. I am African American and I am very uneasy about this. We fought too long and too hard to turn this around and do the same thing to others. We want to be treated equally and fairly in these situations and nothing positive can be gained from doing this. Let’s really look at this. Too many people fought and dies in the struggle for civil rights, affirmative action, and equality, and as tempting as it may be to return the terrible crushing humilation and denials that people of color have been subjected to in testing, promotion, at the hands of those who have the power to use nepotism, chronyism, legacy appointments, promtions and unfair opportunities, this dishonors our long hard fight and the memory of Medgar Evers, Dr. King, and so many other unnamed and unknown advocates.

  • There is nothing “reverse” about descrimination! It is either “descrimination” or not!! I believe, diversity programs promote descrimination by mandating to employers and schools that they must hire/admit and prove they do, a certain number of specific nonwhite people. Employers should be “free” to hire whoever is best qualified and remove the “race equation” from the hiring process. THat is descrimination!!!
    I also do not appreciate my tax dollars being given to special interest groups that are based on race. What is that? Why don’t we consider that descriminatory? I pray that we stop all the descrimination and spending to promote it and get back to basics, the “United States of America” not the Diverse States of America…..all our ancestors originated elsewhere…we must unite, not divide.

  • Anonymous

    I really believe that racial discrimination is exists everywhere in the world. Not only in America, and I may say that America is more better than other countries.Let me give you a real examples of discrimination in Sudan. When you hear civil Western Sudan ( DARFUR) War between Muslims.Africans Muslims in the west Sudan and the Arabs Muslims in the North. The Arabs in the North do not want people in Darfur to share them in the central Government in Khartoum.This is a racism. a racial discrimination aganist peple in Darfur.So racial discrimination is exists everywhere in the world. many people are to come America. More because, they are suffering from discrimination and political issues and religious.

  • Anonymous

    I work with 90 percent majority hispanic co workers in new mexico, It is blue collar work and I have received slights against my “WASP “being, (t(heir words not mine), for 18 years from state and local government employees with supervisors watching and approving, sometimes threatening violence against me.

  • “I’d say that many (most?) white people think that most people of color in positions of authority are not qualified to hold them.”

    You have nothing to back that up this overwhelmingly instigating and offensive claim. You claim reverse discrimination doesn’t exist while at the same time prejudging (most?) whites to dismiss any blacks who hold authority.

    These discrimination argumenents make my head hurt. Nothing will get resolved if both sides perpetually take ignorant shits all over the place.

    Im an 18 year old white first time voter who voted for Obama. You know why? Because he spews much less bulls— then romney. I don’t trust him, but I trust him way more then Romney or bush. It’s not because he’s black, I don’t trust him because he’s a politician. That’s what he is right?

    My generation is trying to make up for all the older generations slack, but we can’t do it with all these old heads telling us racism is bad while throwing gas on the fire.

    • Luke Visconti

      My statement is my opinion based on my experience—and the works of people like Charles Murray and Samuel Huntington, and the popularity of folks like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and the evidence of the lack of representation in positions of power (corporate, government, religious).

      I agree that my generation didn’t do a great job in resolving these issues. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • In America, I feel as if us Asians get hit the hardest when it comes to “Affirmative Action.” This is especially true for top colleges.

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