A Dilemma Regarding Diversity and Discrimination

Jason Wright is a man with an exceptional resume.

After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in psychology, as well as All-Big Ten and bowl game honors, Wright became a team captain and player’s union representative during his 7 seasons in the NFL.

Following his retirement, Wright went on to earn an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago and became a partner with the DC office of management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Recently, Mr. Wright secured a position as President of the The Washington Football Team (formerly known as the Redskins).

Wright is certainly displaying a winning attitude about the matter, as per this interview with Michael Strahan.

While this accomplishment is on par with Wright’s track record, it cements Wright as the first black president of an NFL team. The media was sure to alert the public of that interesting fact, echoing this unique distinction in virtually all headlines covering the occasion.

The emphasis placed on the racial significance of Wright’s position inspired the following peculiar dilemma regarding the role of black firsts.

Suppose the United States reaches a point where race is universally considered to be an insignificant factor regarding individual well-being and progress.

Under the aforementioned condition, so long as there exists: a black race, new job openings, room for innovation, and records to be broken, there will always be opportunities for a black person to be the first of their race to accomplish something.

Opportunities, however, don’t account for preferences. Even if race was demonstrably proven and accepted to not have any noticeable effect on personal advancement, it is not a given that there will be a uniform representation of interests across racial lines.

If black people were to embark on there own interests in this sense, there could very well be a slew of positions and milestones uninhabited and unconquered by blacks primarily due to disinterest. In this instance, the “First Black…” would simply be a matter of time more than anything.

Under this hypothetical, would there be a role for racial inclusion measures?

If, under the hypothetical, a black person of Wright’s professional stature were to voluntarily turn down a position that would count as a black first, that person would be eschewing closing a racial accomplishment gap; this would (at least temporarily) prevent a more diverse make up of people who have held that particular position.

Inclusion measures may expedite the process of a black person securing said position, but in the absence of racism being an obstacle, would there be a point to push for diversity?

While the answers to this situation will vary based on personal views, bearing the questions in mind is crucial since (1) the mitigation of racism is the supposed goal of the “anti racist” & “woke” movements and (2) much of the rationale for diversity increases lies within combating racism.

Yet, actions taken to solve modern problems don’t necessarily end with those problems. For example, one could look into the origins of licencing, labor unions, and minimum wage and find the rationales for these policies shift with time.

Though these policies are now commonly touted as being for financial well-being and labor quality, they all have origins as exclusionary tactics against black labor competing with white labor in the market. Walter E. Williams thoroughly covers this in Race & Economics and South Africa’s War Against Capitalism.

That being said, it may be pertinent to start critically assessing hypotheticals to gain insight into how current diversity measures (and the rationales for them) may morph in the future.

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

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