Let’s check in on the University of Missouri. Last semester, campus radicals pushed out the president largely because of a few alleged racial incidents that no sentient person believed he caused or could control. Now comes the brave new world of mandatory diversity training — where young students learn all about the oppression inherent in the system. There’s one slight problem with the narrative, however. This isn’t 1950. So the racial injustice is a bit harder to find. Consider this portrait of a diversity training session, painted by the New York Times:
Scott N. Brooks, draped in a dapper shawl-collar sweater, looked out on the auditorium of mostly white students in puffy coats and sweats as they silently squirmed at his question. Why, he had asked, does Maria Sharapova, a white Russian tennis player, earn nearly twice as much in endorsements as Serena Williams, an African-American with a much better win-loss record?
“We like to think it’s all about merit,” said Dr. Brooks, a sociology professor at the University of Missouri, speaking in the casual cadence of his days as a nightclub D.J. “It’s sport. Simply, the best should earn the most money.”
Let’s pause for a moment for a bit of perspective. Williams was ranked 20th in the world for endorsements, last year earning $13 million. Sharapova was twelfth, earning $23 million. Athletes who earned more than Sharapova included Kobe Bryant, cricket star Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Tiger Woods.
Let’s also pause to consider the sheer idiocy of Mr. Brooks’s statement regarding merit. Endorsements are not a “sport.” Not every great athlete is a great pitchman, and some athletes who are long past their prime can still move product. Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major since 2008, but he’s the world number two in endorsements, with $50 million in annual income. He even signed two new deals in 2014.
Moreover, the nature of the sport matters. Stars in individual sports with wealthy and large European followings (golf, tennis) tend to make more than team sports stars. Black basketball stars tend to make more money than even the world’s most famous white quarterbacks. Physical attractiveness matters – so does camera presence, and a host of other factors that can turn a great athlete into an advertiser’s dream. During the 1980s, Magic Johnson was often the second-best player on his Lakers team, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But who would you want selling product? The charismatic Johnson or the dour Abdul-Jabbar?
But back to Mr. Brooks:
Maybe tennis is not as popular here as overseas, one student offered. Dr. Brooks countered: Ms. Williams is a global figure. As the room fell silent, the elephant settled in. Most sat still, eyes transfixed on the stage. None of the participants — roughly 70 students new to the University of Missouri — dared to offer the reason for the disparity that seemed most obvious. Race.
Most obvious to whom? Serena Williams is a global figure — that’s why she earns a whopping $13 million in annual endorsements for playing a sport few Americans care about — but Sharapova is from Russia, playing a sport Europeans follow far more closely, and she’s a classic European beauty. Ahh, but there it is. If you prefer slim blondes to more full-figured African-Americans, there is something wrong with you:
[Brooks] offered a gentle explanation of the Williams/Sharapova discrepancy: “Maria is considered a beauty queen, but by what standards of beauty? Some people might just say, ‘Oh, well, she’s just prettier.’ Well, according to whom? This spells out how we see beauty in terms of race, this idea of femininity. Serena is often spoofed for her big butt. She’s seen as too muscular.”
The racial reductionism and intellectual simplicity are painful to behold. What’s the social justice warrior explanation for the fact that Peyton Manning — a five-time NFL MVP, a Super Bowl champion, a starting quarterback in the current Super Bowl, the all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns in by-far America’s favorite sport — makes $23 million less in annual endorsements than Kevin Durant, a one-time MVP from a small-market NBA team who’s not yet won a championship? The endorsement game isn’t about race, it’s about dollars. And Durant moves more product than Manning. Good for him.
The article emphasizes the students’ apparent discomfort throughout the training session, but they’re likely “squirming” not because they’re being exposed to uncomfortable new truths but rather because they can’t believe the heavy-handed ideological stupidity. No wonder applications are down at Missouri. If this is what passes for “education” at the state’s flagship school, parents should spend their money elsewhere. Let the racial ideologues “teach” themselves straight into the unemployment line.