“Stubborn Ignorance” re: Diversity

30 Jul

Walter Williams recently wrote a column titled “Stubborn Ignorance”, in which he criticized the arguments of those who seem to think that race proportionality is the end-all, do-all solution to encouraging diversity throughout society.

 Dr. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.  Also a black conservative.

 I have excerpts from his column below – you can find the full column at


[Excerpt begins – bolding is mine; and content in brackets [ ] is mine.]]

Academic intelligentsia, their media, government and corporate enthusiasts worship at the altar of diversity. Despite budget squeezes, universities have created diversity positions, such as director of diversity and inclusion, manager of diversity recruitment, associate dean for diversity, vice president of diversity and perhaps minister of diversity. This is all part of a quest to get college campuses, corporate offices and government agencies to “look like America.”  [It also adds significant cost to higher education.]

For them, part of looking like America means race proportionality. For example, if blacks are 13 percent of the population, they should be 13 percent of college students and professors, corporate managers and government employees. Law professors, courts and social scientists have long held that gross statistical disparities are evidence of a pattern and practice of discrimination. Behind this vision is the stupid notion that [if it weren’t for] discrimination, we’d be distributed proportionately by race across incomes, education, occupations and other outcomes. There’s no evidence from anywhere on earth or any time in human history that shows that [if it weren’t for] discrimination, there would be proportional representation and an absence of gross statistical disparities, by race, sex, height or any other human characteristic. .  .  .  Let’s run a few gross disparities by you  .  .  .  .

Jews are not even 1 percent of the world’s population and only 3 percent of the U.S. population, but they are 20 percent of the world’s Nobel Prize winners and 39 percent of U.S. Nobel laureates. That’s a gross statistical disparity, but are the Nobel committees discriminating against the rest of us?  .  .  .  .

Nearly 80 percent of the players in the National Basketball Association in 2011 were black, and 17 percent were white, but if that disparity is disconcerting, Asians were only 1 percent. Compounding the racial disparity, the highest-paid NBA players are black. That gross disparity works the other way in the National Hockey League, in which less than 3 percent of the players are black. Blacks are 66 percent of NFL and AFL professional football players .  .  .  . 

How does one explain these gross sports disparities? Might it be that the owners of these multibillion-dollar professional basketball, football and baseball teams are pro-black and that those of the NHL and major industries are racists?  [Not likely – most disparities result from choices that arise from within the respective cultures – not a bad thing.]

There are some other disparities that might bother the diversity people. Asians routinely get the highest scores on the math portion of the SAT, whereas blacks get the lowest.  .  .  .  The population statistics for [five states] show that not even 1 percent of their population is black. On the other hand, in [several] states .  .  .  blacks are over-represented.  [So do we redistribute populations to achieve proportionality?]  .  .  .  .

[End of excerpt]

I think the point is that there are several reasons why proportionality does not occur, and may not even be desirable.  And where proportionality seems more desirable, the barrier most often has nothing to do with discrimination on the basis of race, sex, etc., but rather stems from cultural influences – change the underlying cultures, and what is valued within the cultures, and we’ll see the so-called “discrimination” problem largely take care of itself.

That would also help a great deal with one of the biggest disparities in our society – the shameful proportion of black men in our prison system.

What do you think about this?


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