- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2000

Two major TV networks CBS and FOX have announced a new "diversity agreement" that includes "commitments" to buy more goods and services from minority-owned vendors, mentoring programs for minorities, minority-specific internships, the hiring of writers, directors and actors from "diverse" backgrounds, and, most alarmingly of all, a "commitment" to reward managers for hiring minorities to fill executive slots.

The cave-in results from a campaign waged by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that pretty much accused the networks of racial bias. Apparently, the omnipresence of Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, Denzel Washington, Danny Glover, Wesley Snipes, "The P.J.s," "Moisha," (two TV shows with predominantly black casts/themes), and innumerable minority news, weather, reportorial employees on virtually every network news show, etc., are to be considered mere tokens. NAACP chairman Kweisi Mfume derisively referred to last fall's programming lineup as a "virtual whitewash," though how he can say this given the above defies comprehension.

Fox has promised to add a minority writer to every show and to buy at least 10 percent of its goods and services from minority-owned businesses. CBS has promised to add a minority and a woman (equal time, of course) to its board of directors. Not since the Jim Crow South has so much virulent attention been given to racial characteristics, quotas and bean-counting. While Mr. Mfume and other supporters of the "diversity" push always couch their message in the language of fairness and opportunity, what it all comes down to, ultimately, is skin color. Not talent. Not resume. Race. The networks may say they are simply working to give minorities a shot at a job or a contract but the fact is they already have just such a shot. It's called merit and competing with others on the basis of talent, background and what one brings to the table, irrespective of skin color. Even if it were the case and there is no evidence for it that persons at CBS, Fox, etc. were deliberately snubbing minority applicants or minority-owned businesses, it would still be better to demand that the networks end their bias rather than for Mr. Mfume to demand even more.

Decent people should abjure this kind of race-hustling. It's more than just unfair to the people who are being implicitly tarred as racists which is egregious in and of itself. But even worse is the fact that this kind of browbeating and neurotic obsession with skin tone fosters and creates anew the very animus most persons wish could be left behind in the past. This is not Alabama in the 1950s and Fox and CBS are not run by latter-day Bull Conners. But it's not easy to leave this obsession with race behind when Mr. Mfume insists on reviving it under another name.

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