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.
I think you have a distorted view of Americans when you make such blanket statements like the one you made in your reply to the question of “Why doesn’t the NBA look like America?” You stated “… because it’s still not acceptable in our society to think of black people as being intellectually equal.”
I find that very offensive. I know I don’t think like that, nor do most whites I know. I do know a number of African Americans who think whites think that way, and your statement just reinforces their thinking. Perpetuating that kind of thinking only aids in supporting the separatist attitude that too many African Americans hold, and it certainly won’t help it to go away.
You may not think like that–and because you don’t, you associate with people who share your opinion. That’s good. However, unless we face the facts as they are, we can’t change our circumstances. I think the facts show that most whites do not accept blacks as intellectually equal.
We live in a society that purports itself to be open for all people, but we should keep in mind that Dr. King and the civil-rights movement had to bring the federal government to the state of national unrest and international embarrassment (over the treatment of peaceful civil-rights marchers) to get the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Bills passed just 42 years ago. Until that time, most African Americans could not legally vote, and access to “mainstream” higher education was almost zero.
Sen. Obama is the third black senator since reconstruction (which ended in approximately 1877). There have been 1,148 senators sworn in since 1877. African Americans have been fairly consistent at 13 percent of our population. If whites felt that blacks were intellectually equal, they certainly wouldn’t have enslaved African Americans, and the Senate would have been far more than 0.26 percent black.
It’s a sad state of affairs, but there’s no way our country would sit still for a second and accept Gary, Ind., or Camden, N.J., looking as it does if the inhabitants were not almost 100 percent black.
You and I may accept blacks as intellectually equal–and I’d assume that we both socialize with people who feel the same as we do–but that’s no reason to assume most white people feel the same way, because the facts show otherwise.
Aside from the ethical issue, there is an overarching economic imperative to rectify disparities: We are now competing in a global market; any waste of talent is a loss in productivity, innovation and wealth that we cannot afford.