I’d like to thank Will Reilly for inviting me to speak to you today. I used to get a lot of invitations to speak on college campuses, but they are now very rare. At least on majority-white campuses, there is an abject terror of speakers who might offend someone. You can’t speak honestly about race without offending people, so what this means is that the truth about race is almost never spoken on most American campuses.
The subject of this debate is whether diversity is a strength for the United States. As you know, from President Obama on down, all you ever hear is people telling you that racial diversity is a strength. Not just a strength, but maybe even our country’s greatest strength.
They’re wrong. Racial diversity is not a strength. It is a grinding, permanent source of conflict and tension, not just in the United States but everywhere in the world where there is racial diversity.
Racial diversity means the presence of more than one race. So let’s imagine, just for a moment, how the history of the United States would have been different without the racial diversity that resulted from bringing blacks here. What would American history be like with no blacks? There would never have been slavery. There would never have been the American civil war–which killed more Americans than all our other wars combined. There would have been no Jim Crow, no segregated schools, no civil rights movement, no busing, no race riots.
And it makes no difference if you want to put 100 percent of the blame for all these things on white people. The fact remains that the historical balance sheet for black/white racial diversity in the United States is hugely, crushingly negative. If you remove black/white racial diversity, you remove slavery, our most deadly war, and our most murderous civil disturbances. The very worst parts of our history vanish. How can something that brought about all that horror be a strength? I would be the winner in this debate if I sat down right now.
But let’s move to the present. I’m sure you have followed the racial demonstrations on college campuses, such as Yale and Princeton and University of Missouri. There would be none of this commotion without racial diversity. Do you think all that screaming and demonstrating is a strength? Does it help people study? No, it is tension, it is conflict.
What’s more, these campus disturbances also show just how differently black and white people see the world. Black students at Yale were complaining about “entrenched white supremacy” at Yale.
“Entrenched white supremacy.” First of all, if Yale were a bastion of white supremacy, there’d be no black students there at all. But were the whites students burning crosses and lynching the black students? Were they attacking black students? Were they at least calling them rude names? No. Not a hint of any of that. Blacks were furious because a professor sent an e-mail message saying that it wasn’t Yale’s job to tell students what Halloween costumes they shouldn’t wear. She said if somebody’s costume offends you, maybe you should just tell him.
That’s white supremacy? Black students on an Ivy League campus must be the most coddled, pampered black people in the history of the world, and if they really believe they are fighting entrenched white supremacy they are living in a completely different world from white people.
And what about the Black Lives Matter movement? Is this a strength for the country? Gangs of people marching around yelling, stopping traffic, shutting down politicians’ speeches. Is this a strength? Even if you think all the shouting is justified, it’s a sign of conflict, fury, and tension. Without racial diversity, we wouldn’t have any of it.
And again, whites and blacks have a completely different view of reality. Where did the Black Lives Matter movement really take off? In Ferguson, after a white policeman shot Michael Brown. When the officer who shot Brown was not indicted, 64 percent of whites thought that was the right decision. Only 4 percent of blacks thought so. This is a huge difference. It was the very same event, but blacks and white saw it completely differently.
Now, to win this debate, I don’t have to convince you that white people were right and black people were wrong. My job is much easier. All I have to do is point out to you that blacks and whites look at exactly the same thing and see something completely different, and for you to realize that that is not a strength. To have people so divided by race that they don’t even see the same things means perpetual, agonizing conflict.
Racial diversity also turns everything into a racial turf battle. Are the Oscar nominees too white? Should the next Supreme Court justice be an Asian? Don’t we need more black policemen? Are there enough Hispanic programmers in Silicon Valley?
You can’t just say, “I hired the best programmers for my business and they were all white guys and Asians.” Nope, in this country if you hire by pure ability alone you can get sued. That’s the kind of thing racial diversity does for you.
Let’s look at this from a different angle. If racial diversity is America’s greatest strength, it must be a truly wonderful thing. It’s better than having a country the size of a continent with beautiful harbors on two oceans. It’s better than having the most productive farmland in the world and huge reserves of natural resources. It must be something so fantastic that every man woman and child in the America wakes up in the morning and says to himself, “How can I get more of this wonderful stuff?”
Is that how people live their lives? No. Are you dying to go to school with Hispanics? Do you yearn for roommates and neighbors who speak Chinese? I suspect you don’t. People like being around people like themselves.
Only white people are confused about this. In 2010, Brown University–a big, Ivy League university–did a study about housing segregation. John Logan is the professor who was the lead researcher. He found, and I quote,
Among minority households, even those with relatively high incomes tend to be clustered in neighborhoods where most of their neighbors are the same race. . . . Race trumps income.
In other words, black people who could afford to buy houses in a white neighborhood bought houses in black neighborhoods instead. Prof. John Logan thinks this is terrible. He’s got a theory about how real estate agents are somehow tricking black people into buying houses in black neighborhoods.
I feel like telling him, “John, darling, there are black people with money who want to live with other black people. Believe it or not, not every black person wants you as a neighbor.” This is a concept he can’t seem to grasp.
The other day I was reading an article about housing segregation in California. That state is a real stew, of course, with people from everywhere. The article was one long moan about how in Los Angeles it’s not just neighborhoods that are segregated, but there are apartment buildings completely segregated by nationality. In some buildings, every single tenant is Korean. In some buildings they’re all Salvadoran.
The writer of the article–another goofy white person–thinks this is scandalous. It’s not scandalous at all. Those people chose to live with each other. They like it that way. Because diversity isn’t a strength.
If you want to understand race in America, just go to church. That’s right. Church. What you will find is that nearly 95 percent of churches have congregations that are at least 80 percent one race. Lots of them are 100 percent one race. There are even about 4,000 Asian congregations in the United States.
You are free to go any church you want. No church is going to bar the door to you or run you off. But when people are completely free to choose, they go where they are comfortable, where they can be like people like themselves. They don’t go looking for diversity.
People want to live, work, socialize, and go to church with their own tribe. A survey of Californians conducted at UC Berkeley found that majorities of whites, Hispanics, blacks, and Asians agreed with the statement that “people are happier when segregated.” [i]
Again, California is a mishmash, with people from all over the world. Hispanics, especially, have been moving into South Central Los Angeles, which used to be black. Here’s what the president of one black home-owners association said about Hispanics:
It’s a different culture, a different breed of people. They don’t have the same values. You can’t get together with them. It’s like mixing oil and water. [ii]
Here is what one black person told The Philadelphia Inquirer some years ago:
We don’t want whites living in our neighborhoods. We don’t want our children going to school with theirs. We don’t want our daughters and sons marrying their sons and daughters. No thanks . . . .
So why have I been talking about segregation? Because it’s about how people really live, not about what they say. It shows what they truly think about racial diversity. They don’t like it and they run away from it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If some people want to mix it up, God bless them. After I’ve finished talking, someone in the audience–probably a white person–is going to get up and say, “I love my black friends and my Mexican friends, and my Chinese friends.” And, to that I say, “I couldn’t be happier for you.” You go out there and you love them for all you’re worth. Just don’t pretend that you’re somehow better than the vast majority of people who prefer to be around folks like themselves.
And what happens when people who don’t want to be together are forced together. The classic example of that was busing of school students during the 1970s. What happened when black children were bussed across town to schools that were all white? The whites cleared out. In Baltimore, when busing started, nine high schools went from being 100 percent white to 100 percent black in just seven years. From white to black overnight.
The white people of Baltimore sure didn’t think racial diversity was a strength. It was the same all over the country. White people left the public schools.
At some of the biggest public school districts in the country, you have to pull out your binoculars to find a white student. In all of Dallas, Texas, only 4.6 percent of the students are white. In Los Angeles, 8.7 percent; in Houston ,7.8 percent; in Detroit, 2.6 percent.
Any white child who wanted a bracing dose of diversity–America’s greatest strength–could sure get it by enrolling in Chicago or Miami public schools. Isn’t it odd? They don’t.
So the whites ran away, but in many schools there is still diversity because blacks and Hispanics stayed behind. And you know what happens? Riots. Los Angeles, for example, has a long history of black and Hispanic students fighting each other. They’ve done it over and over. Just last November, at Hawthorne High School in LA, there was a race riot involving 300 students. Thirty students were suspended or expelled. But this stuff is just local news.
And it’s not just Los Angeles. In high schools all around the country, there have been riots of blacks vs. Hispanics, blacks vs. Arabs, whites vs. Hispanics, Hispanics vs. American Indians, blacks vs. Asians. Just about every mix you can imagine.
Did you know that a number of schools in California have banned the American flag? That’s right, an American flag stirs up Hispanics to the point they might riot. Diversity can turn even Old Glory into the equivalent of gang colors.
You want to hear the saddest story ever about school diversity? In 2010, the graduation ceremony of the Puesta del Sol Elementary School in Victorville, California, had to be called off because of a riot between black and Hispanic parents. Police locked down the school and made arrests. [iii] This is the graduation ceremony of an elementary school. I guess diversity didn’t turn out to be such a strength.
So, the government integrated the schools and we get white flight and riots. When there aren’t riots, the students of different races generally keep to themselves. They self-segregate.
But there is a different kind of institution the government has integrated even more intrusively, and that’s prisons.
And the result? Race riots. I could give you a great long list of prison race riots in which people have been killed, maimed, slashed, beaten unconscious. That’s why people of every race stick together for protection. A man who served four years in a California prison wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times about life in prison. He wrote about what he called the Number 1 Rule for Survival, “The races and ethnic groups stick together. There is no other rule.”
Here’s another white guy writing about what it’s like to do time in Texas.
[B]ecause of my prison experience, I can’t stand being in the presence of blacks. I can’t even listen to my old, favorite Motown music anymore. . . .
The he goes on to say:
[I]n the aftermath of the Byrd murder [the black guy who was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas] I read one commentator’s opinion in which he expressed disappointment that ex-cons could come out of prison with unresolved racial problems despite the racial integration of the prisons. Despite? Buddy, I have news for you! How about because of racial integration? [iv]
You know what the number-one demand in prisons is? Segregation. Forced integration means that people are going to die. But no, we can’t do the humane thing and separate prisoners because we have this baloney theory about diversity being a strength. Tell that to the guys who ended up dead or with 40 stitches because of diversity.
And, by the way, when there are riots in schools and prisons, it’s always about race. You will never hear about the liberals and conservatives trying to kill each other. Or the Baptists and Methodists. The problem is race.
So let’s take a look at the work place. That’s a completely different picture, right? There are loads of big companies that claim “diversity is job number one.” Diversity is great for the profits, right?
Thomas A. Kochan, a professor at MIT has probably researched corporate diversity more thoroughly than anyone. The first thing he did was contact 20 major companies that brag about their diversity, and asked them to tell him what diversity had done for them. He was astonished to learn that not one company had done a study on how diversity might have increased profits or improved operations. They had nothing to show him.
After five years of studying corporate diversity, he found that the more diversity there was, the more conflict and tension there was, and the more likely people were to quit. His conclusion: “The diversity industry is built on sand.”
People who praise diversity like to point to a 2007 book by Scott Page of the University of Michigan. The book is called The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies. Sounds great. Finally, here’s proof of the strength of diversity, right? No. Scott Page is writing about the importance of different points of view and problem-solving techniques. When it comes to racial diversity, he writes this:
Lots of strange things can happen in a diverse group that would not be likely to happen among homogeneous people–including physical and verbal violence. . . . [v] The more different we are the less we agree. . . . [vi] Group dynamics can create no end of problems. People prefer to hang with people like themselves. [vii]
This is just common sense. In fact, a large-scale survey called the National Study of the Changing Workforce found that more than half of all workers said they preferred to work with people who were not only of the same race, but also the same sex and same level of education. [viii]
You have all heard of diversity training and diversity management. It’s a $10 billion-a-year industry. But think about it. Why does the country have to spend $10 billion a year trying to manage something that is supposed to be wonderful? You don’t have to pay someone to teach you how to benefit from things that are genuinely good. Do you need a consultant to tell you how to deal with more vacation time, or good weather, or cheaper gasoline, or free beer? No. The good things in life take care of themselves.
There are diversity managers because diversity is a mess and a problem and a bother, and people are going crazy just trying to deal with it.
So, just how much of a mess and problem?
It would be impossible to count up every single strain and confrontation and insult that comes from racial diversity. But we have a few indications, and that is the number of formal racial grievances filed by Americans. Now, things have to get pretty bad for someone to file a formal grievance. And for every formal grievance, there must be many, many more racial problems that people either just put up with, or walk away from.
So how many grievances are there? In 2015, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC, heard 31,027 cases of racial discrimination, 9,438 cases of National Origins discrimination, and 2,833 cases of color discrimination. That comes to a total of 43,298 cases–brand new cases–all filed in 2015. That’s a typical year.
In addition, about 9,000 cases are filed in federal court every year.
But that’s just the feds. The states have their own systems. In 2014, California dealt with 10,559 brand new race discrimination cases. And that’s just one state. Every branch of the military has a grievance procedure. Every major university. Big companies do, too. If you counted up every federal, state, local, military, and civilian racial grievance filed in a single year, how many would you get? 100,000? 500,000? I don’t even know. I’m not sure anyone has ever counted them all up.
My point is, every one of these cases represents agony, heartache, resentment. Think of all the time and money that went into filing these cases, processing them, deciding them, enforcing them. It must cost the country billions of dollars every year, over and above the heartache and agony.
And on top of that there are the diversity bureaucracies in businesses, affirmative action coordinators in universities, diversity specialists in the military–we have this huge, clanking, wheezing, groaning machine chewing up enormous resources, just trying to sort through the endless problems of what is supposed to be a strength.
In a country without racial diversity, you wouldn’t need any of that. It’d be gone overnight.
In their own sheepish way, a few scholars have tumbled to the obvious about diversity. Have any of you heard of Robert Putnam of Harvard? He studied 41 different communities in the US that ranged from very homogeneous rural South Dakota to super-mixed-up Los Angeles. And what he found was that the more diversity there is, the less people trust each other. Well, Robert Putnam is a typical confused white man, and he just couldn’t believe what he found. He analyzed his data every possible way to find some reason other than diversity to explain why people in Los Angeles don’t trust each other. He couldn’t find one.
This was terrible for him, because he wanted to believe that diversity is a strength. So he just sat on his research for five years, and finally published it only because some of his findings leaked out.
So what did Robert Putnam found out? Diversity leads to:
* A lower expectation that people will cooperate to solve problems.
* Less voluntarism and less charitable giving.
* Fewer friends and more unhappiness.
* A lower likelihood to bother to register to vote.
* Less confidence in local government, local leaders, and local media. [ix]
* A lot more television watching.
When you haven’t got friends and you don’t trust people you watch a lot of TV.
So, there it is, straight from Harvard: Diversity destroys trust.
Another study run by MIT and Tufts University summarized 15 different investigations of the impact of diversity on trust. The conclusion every time was: more diversity, less trust. [x]*
By the way, there is a field of study called “happiness research” that analyzes what makes people happy. Prof. Michael Hagerty of UC Davis has surveyed decades of international happiness research and found that “for the most part, the top-rated countries are small and homogeneous.” He went on to explain that “they have a similar world view and a similar religion, so that it’s easier for them to communicate and to understand each other’s motives. And they don’t have race problems.” [xi]
Once again, here is the voice of research. Diversity destroys trust. Homogeneity makes you happy.
I’d like to close with some poll results. A 2007 poll asked non-whites whether racial tension is either a “very important problem,” “somewhat important,” or not a problem. No less than 93 percent of Hispanics thought it was very or somewhat important (79 percent said “very important”), 92 percent of blacks thought it was very or somewhat important (65 percent said “very important”), and 73 percent of Asians thought racial tension was very or somewhat important problem for the country (37 percent said “very important”).
This is racial tension we’re talking about.
The day after Mr. Obama was elected, a Gallup poll found that 70 percent of Americans thought his election would improve race relations.
Well, six years later, a Bloomberg Poll found that 56 percent of whites and 45 percent of blacks thought race relations got worse under Obama.
A Wall Street Journal/CBS poll last year found that 63 percent of Americans think race relations are bad, and only 33 percent think they are good. These are the worst figures in 20 years.
Just this year, Rasmussen reports found that 50 percent of Americans think race relations are getting worse.
Bad and getting worse. Americans aren’t stupid. They just have to open their eyes to see that racial diversity is not a strength. Race has been a problem in this country from the start. We’ve been chewing on this bone for hundreds of years. And we still have race riots, for heaven’s sake, like the ones we just had in Ferguson and Baltimore.
Why can’t we get it right?
For the same reason that nobody, anywhere can get it right. Race is a fundamental dividing line. Show me a multi-racial society, and I’ll show you conflict.
Now, I’ve told you about the problems you get when you have racial diversity that you would never have had without it. For Prof. Reilly to win this debate, he’s got to show you benefits that you would never have without diversity. And those benefits have to be so wonderful and so numerous that they not only make up for all the agony I have been describing, but they have to leave us way ahead because of diversity.
And for diversity to be a strength, it can’t be that diverse people lived together and refrained from killing each other. And it can’t be that they lived together and got along reasonably well. That’s not good enough. For diversity to be a strength, Prof. Reilly has got to come up with an impressive list of accomplishments, achievements, wonders that would have been impossible in a homogeneous, all-white America. So please listen very carefully and see if he does.
We have race problems in this country. Nobody would deny that. And we’re not going to solve them by repeating slogans that just aren’t true. We’ve got to dump this cuckoo fantasy about racial diversity being a strength. Only the truth will solve our problems, and the truth is that racial diversity is a terrible weakness.
- [i] Ken Chavez, “California’s Racial Issues Increasingly Political Ones, Too,” Sacramento Bee, Oct. 26, 1997.
- [ii]Frank Clifford, “Tension Among Minorities Upsets the Old Rules of A. Politics,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 15, 1991, p. A14.
- [iii] Aliyah Shahid, “Two Arrested at Brawl at CA Kindergarten Graduation at Puesta del Sol Elementary School,” New York Daily News, June 25, 2010.
- [iv] John Doe, “Doing Time in Texas: The Truth Behind the Race Murder of James Byrd,” Culture Wars, April, 2000, p. 40.
- [v] Scott E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), p. 314.
- [vi], p. 332.
- [vii], p. 14.
- [viii] Shankar Vedantam, “Most Diversity Training Ineffective, Study Finds,” Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2008.
- [ix], pp. 149f.
- [x] Jonathan Tilove, “A Diversity Divide,” Newhouse News, July 8, 2007. The original plan of this book included a section, similar to Chapters 2 and 3, on conflicts that arise from racial and ethnic diversity in countries other than the United States. There are so many such conflicts that this would have required doubling the size of the book.
- [xi] Keay Davidson, “Science Tracks the Good Life,” San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 24, 2000, p. A1.