Atlanta Symphony rejects two HS choruses owing to lack of ‘diversity’
posted at 2:19 pm on August 20, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
What’s wrong with this picture? If you clicked on the link, you were taken to a video of a rehearsal by a high school chorus that to the ear of this former high school choir member (second tenor) sounds just fine. It was not for lack of talent or ability to harmonize that these teen singers were rejected by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), which annually selects an area high school to perform with it. Rather, it was their skin tone—or lack thereof.
FOX News reports that “two high school choruses will reportedly not perform with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra this year because their groups are not racially-diverse enough.” The schools, Walton and Lassiter, are both in Cobb County, ranked the twelfth most educated and one of the top 100 wealthiest counties in the U.S.
Jay Dillon, a spokesman for the county, notes that “the schools were informed … that the symphony would be inviting a third, more diverse chorus.”
Some Marietta, Ga., residents see the symphony’s decision as discriminatory—an attitude that ASO’s president, Stanley Romanstein, finds surprising. One of the orchestra’s goals, he notes, is to “reflect the diversity of Atlanta.” While some will applaud that goal as laudable, shouldn’t the overriding criterion for who get to perform with a world-class symphony be musicality?
If the primacy of the goal of diversity were extended to all entertainment venues, the National Football League (to name one) would be in serious need of a shakeup. A 2009 report on the ethnic composition found that 92% of wide receivers, 100% of running backs, and 96% of defensive backs were black. Despite comprising only 13.6% of the population, black athletes also had pluralities at every other position except placekicker, punter, and quarterback (even though at that last prized position, blacks were over-represented at 19% and their numbers have been climbing in the years since). Much as the left-leaning Tides Foundation hates to admit it, racial minorities are even making in-roads at management positions in professional football, with “diverse employees at or above the VP level increasing by 30 percent” through 2011.
The question that naturally arises is what ever happened to the notion of meritocracy—to “the idea,” as one prominent speaker recently put it, “that if you work hard, that hard work is rewarded; that you can make it here if you try, regardless of what you look like, where you come from, what your last name is”? That observation, as you may have guessed, was made by no less an expert on equality than Barack Obama. Then again, scoffers will submit that Obama was speaking about himself—or at least his black half—and others like him, not some lily white bunch of kids from an Atlanta suburb.
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