White imbecility

Consider the supposed brilliance of two of the leading self-proclaimed "anti-racism" experts:

The irony of American history is the tendency of good white Americans to presume racial innocence. Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege.

In other words. It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America. Tim Wise

Whiteness is dynamic, relational, and operating at all times and on myriad levels. These processes and practices include basic rights, values, beliefs, perspectives and experiences purported to be commonly shared by all but which are actually only consistently afforded to white people. —Robin DiAngelo

Wise, who is partially of Jewish ethnicity, and DiAngelo, who is of Italian ancestry through her mother, are either ignorant of the history of Jews and Italians in America or they willfully disregard it. And one can see why: Identifying with the White self-hate movement is very lucrative.

Wise and DiAngelo have relentlessly promoted themselves as the grand poobahs of the racial grievance industry. Wise's speaking fees range from $10,000 to $20,000 per appearance and DiAngelo's fee ranges from an astounding $50,000–$75,000 per event! They have both written books on the subject, and DiAngelo's White Fragility has been required reading in high schools, colleges, and the corporate world. In fact, White Fragility was a New York Times bestseller for more than a year.

And one needs to ask whether they are using their "White privilege" to take these high-paying bookings away from anti-racist experts of color. Perhaps they should be canceled for their obvious insensitivity and exploitation of minority professionals.

I'll remind Wise and DiAngelo that Jews, Italians, and other European ethnic groups were severely discriminated against and in many cases lynched in our not-to-distant past. The hanging of Leo Frank in Georgia in 1915, as well as the 1891 lynching of 11 Sicilians in New Orleans, speak to their supposed "White privilege."

Well into the 20th century, Jews, Italians, and other ethnic groups were excluded from elite country clubs. In fact, Italian-Americans were only allowed on those properties as servants and janitors.

Wise and DiAngelo would have us believe that these groups "became White." To that, I say to them, "Speak for yourself." It is a ridiculous notion for those of us who are darker in skin color than the average "White" person.

For example, when I was in my 20s, I once worked on a security detail for a PGA tournament that was being held at a local country club. When I reported to the clubhouse to ask where I needed to go, the woman at the front desk immediately assumed that I was working in the landscaping crew, which was comprised entirely of Hispanics. I have also been taken as being of Arab, Middle Eastern, and Indian/Pakistani descent.

And this brings me to the "looks like me" diversity argument. Wise and DiAngelo's argument is that employers and colleges discriminate against certain groups. Black and Brown people say that they see very few people who "look like" them in these organizations.

Since I'm often taken for Hispanic or Middle Eastern by "Brown people" themselves, I guess that I would qualify as looking Brown. Yet the EEOC classified me as "White" under their standard racial and ethnic definitions. Isn't that interesting?

The "looks like me" affirmative action leg up for officially-designated minorities does not apply to southern Europeans who look stereotypically Hispanic or Middle Eastern. This is fine, except that many Hispanic leaders and diversity consultants say that employers discriminate against people who "look like" them.

People who are of southern European ancestry aren't looking for an affirmative action preference. We merely want to be evaluated on the qualifications we bring to the table. Period. But that's nearly impossible when people who "look like me" and are officially recognized by the government as "protected classes" are given preferences in hiring and college admission.

Tim Wise and Robin DiAngelo never address this issue in their writings and speeches. Why would they? I suspect that it would be detrimental to their lucrative businesses.

Michael A. Bertolone, M.S. is a freelance writer focusing on workplace issues, government, and politics. Find more of his American Thinker pieces here.