The Corner

Politics & Policy

Where Did the Absurd ‘Diversity Training’ Idea Come From?

(Devonyu/Getty Images)

Diversity training is a huge industry today, with many companies and speakers claiming that they can (for a hefty fee) root out all those nasty latent prejudices in people. After all, academics tell us that nearly all white people have racial biases. Companies and educational institutions now spend billions lest they be accused of not caring.

In today’s Martin Center article, Professor Alexander Riley looks at this phenomenon.

Riley writes, “In the typical scenario, students, staff, and faculty submit themselves to the mercies of hectoring lectures and demeaning demonstrations that purport to reveal white privilege and the oppressive conditions faced by ‘underrepresented populations’ in their institutions. Former Smith College staffer Jodi Shaw’s account of how, as part of such training, she was humiliatingly reduced to her racial identity and reprimanded for her role in the oppression of non-white co-workers is but the most recent high-profile example being discussed and debated.”

Riley reports on the sheer mania for “diversity, inclusion, and equity” on his campus at Bucknell.

There is no reliable evidence to show that any of this actually changes people for the better, but nobody dares to say that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

How did “diversity training” begin? Riley explains: “It was born the day after Martin Luther King Jr. died. On April 5, 1968, Jane Elliott, an Iowa third-grade teacher, conducted an experiment intended to inform her students what it was like to be non-white in America. Elliott staged a world in which her radical view of race relations in the country was produced within her class of white students. Brown-eyed students were collared, ostracized, insulted, and bullied by their teacher and the blue-eyed students. Then the process was reversed, and blue-eyed students became the targets.”

What started out as cruel humiliation of a few third graders has now spread to millions of adults.

“Contemporary diversity training,” Riley states,  “reinforces [Elliott’s] view. Consider, for example, this talk by a former Bucknell diversity officer, who claimed that no white person can meaningfully say ‘I am not a racist’ and suggested that whites who disagree are de facto supporters of the violent ‘racial tyranny’ that is the United States.”

An unchallengeable dogma has been unleashed on America, one that accomplishes nothing except to provide incomes for people with otherwise useless academic credentials.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


The Latest