Black Scholar Dr. Carol Swain chooses conjecture over facts in her response to Dr. Ibram X Kendi over DEI.
In recent days, Black Scholar Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, an influential figure in discussions on race and equity, provided historical context on the opposition faced by diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in their nascent stages during the 1960s and 1970s. Dr. Kendi highlighted the adversarial stance of Jim Crow segregationists and the subsequent rebranding of DEI efforts as “discrimination” and “racism.” He observed that despite societal evolution, the opposition’s playbook has endured.
Dr. Swain contended that DEI, akin to “affirmative action on steroids.”
Predictably, Dr. Kendi’s perspective faced criticism, particularly from the far right. One noteworthy response, however, diverged from the expected discourse. Dr. Carol Swain, a Black scholar, articulated a dissenting opinion, asserting that DEI diverges significantly from the diversity initiatives initiated after landmark legislations such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Open Housing Act. Dr. Swain contended that DEI, akin to “affirmative action on steroids,” contravenes Civil Rights Laws and the U.S. Constitution, advocating instead for pursuits aligned with nondiscrimination, equal opportunity, and integration.
This response, marked by surprise and concern, prompted further inquiry into the academic underpinnings of Dr. Swain’s assertions. The subsequent examination revealed a disconcerting lack of nuanced understanding or potential deliberate misrepresentation of the objectives of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs. In light of this, I wrote the following open letter, emphasizing the expectation that individuals holding advanced degrees engage in comprehensive research before formulating conclusions on complex subjects, particularly when such conclusions carry the weight of public discourse.
Dear Dr. Carol Swain,
I regret to inform you that your recent commentary on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs reflects a serious misinterpretation of the subject matter. It appears that your assertions may be rooted in either a lack of comprehension of the genuine objectives of DEI initiatives or a purposeful misrepresentation thereof, aligning with your biased political perspective. Given your esteemed position as a Black scholar holding a Ph.D., I implore you to prioritize factual accuracy over conjecture in your discourse.
It is disconcerting to note that your unsubstantiated claims inadvertently contribute to the amplification of individuals such as Bill Ackman and Christopher F. Ruso, both known for their intolerant views reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. This inadvertently fosters an environment where misinformation regarding DEI proliferates, playing into the hands of white nationalists who aim to reintroduce historically detrimental systemic biases that have perpetually marginalized communities. Your involvement in this narrative is regrettable and stands in contradiction to the principles of scholarly conduct.
While your commentary lacks specific examples, my research has identified instances where white employees have been awarded damages for wrongful termination, often citing claims of reverse discrimination. However, even if you had referenced such cases, it is imperative to clarify that these isolated incidents do not substantiate the assertion that inherent flaws exist within DEI initiatives. Rather, they underscore shortcomings in employer training and understanding of DEI principles, indicating a failure to implement and adhere to these policies as intended.
In conclusion, it is imperative to acknowledge that isolated legal cases should not be extrapolated to imply systemic flaws within DEI programs. Effectively addressing these challenges necessitates a collective endeavour to elevate education and comprehension of DEI policies, thereby guaranteeing their accurate and equitable implementation within the workplace and fostering an inclusive environment.