Progress is Impossible? Ta-Nehisi Coates writes that he has no affinity with the firemen and police who were incinerated on 911, given his grievances over endemic racism and the inability of blacks to gain parity with the majority due to systematic exclusion, formerly overt, today insidious. Currently, blacks make up about 12% of the population. The president of the United States, the present (and former) attorney general of the United States, the secretary of Transportation, the secretary of Homeland Security, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the head of NASA are African American. Twenty-one percent of the Postal Service employees are African-American; seventeen percent of the entire federal work force is black. Seventy-eight percent of the NBA are African-American. Sixty-seven percent of NFL players are black. Sixteen percent of the teams have African-American head coaches; twenty-four percent of the teams have black general managers. Has the definition of diversity become that overrepresentation in some areas (the Left’s word, not mine) of African-Americans, based on percentages in the general population, is still diversity, while underrepresentation of blacks in the physics department at Caltech is proof of endemic racism? Or does a physics professor enjoy more perks and money than a NFL general manager?
We are asked to believe that Mr. Coates encounters crippling racism more so than my quite dark, quite accented, and quite turbaned Punjabi neighbor, who lives in a sea of non-Punjabis. We are asked to believe that an entire generation of lower middle-class white and mixed-race Americans who came of age not during Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, but during the half-century of affirmative action and diversity set-asides are guaranteed winning slots in American because of their “white privilege.” When I see the local, broke, and white tire-changer, somehow I don’t think his coming of age in the 1980s was easier than that of Jeh Johnson or Eric Holder. When I see a video in which a privileged young white elite at $65,000-per-year Wellesley or Amherst confesses to “white privilege,” I wonder how many hours he has welded in Tulare or she has done data entry in a carrel in San Jose. Many of our problems derive from black elites feeding off the guilt of compatriot white elites of a like class in a similar landscape, who claim to speak for all whites, as if they shared something when in fact they share nothing much at all. I suspect that more white males feel an affinity, a stronger one based on shared ideas, with Ben Carson than any affinity on the basis of race with Hillary Clinton or John Kerry.