Today the concepts of equity and justice are far less egalitarian than they sound. Rather, those terms are used as a weapon by those who want to force others to accept societal changes which neither benefit nor advance the causes of the people they purport to champion.
The latest pernicious example comes from an organization calling itself Dallas Justice Now. In late July, the organization circulated a letter to White people in an affluent Dallas neighborhood demanding that they pledge to refrain from sending their “White-privileged” children to Ivy League and other top colleges and universities to open up spots for children of color and to encourage their friends to do the same.
The letter finishes by informing the neighborhood that the names of those people who did and did not sign the pledge will be publicly announced—a thinly veiled threat that anyone who refuses to sign will be labeled a racist.
I pray the first time most people read this letter, they took it as satire, as I did. Unfortunately, the letter is real. Though I believe it will be ineffective toward its purpose, it demonstrates how far off the rails this movement will push our nation if we allow it to continue unchallenged.
My problems with the letter are legion, particularly as an African American man myself. The one that stands out for me is that this does absolutely nothing to advance the causes of people of color. In fact, it would diminish the credibility of any movement on top of creating resentment and division by making such a preposterous demand. And threatening people into compliance is a low-percentage shot at gaining unity.
No person of color is well-served by removing the need to compete, strive, and continually improve oneself to achieve. A better time would be spent improving their math skills. Moreover, telling Black people that the only way to score a touchdown is to have the referees remove the other players from the field is not only insulting but conditions everyone to see blacks and other people of color as intellectually and academically subpar.
The great Black abolitionist, Fredrick Douglass, once famously wrote that if the Black man cannot stand on his own two feet, then let him fall. The point is well-taken for people of any race, color, or creed. Much better to fail on one’s own as a grownup than to be fed, groomed, excused, and lavished with affection like someone else’s pet.
The irony of this relentless push for equity is how dehumanizing it really is. Nothing in a person’s life experience matters except the color of their skin or where their parents were from. History—a factor over which we have no control—determines whether someone is oppressed or is an oppressor and how they deserve to be treated by society in perpetuity. It no longer matters how hard a person has worked, how they treat other people, or what choices they have made in life. The whole of a person is being reduced to a couple of boxes to check on a form. It is a tortured form of reasoning to conclude that this is progress toward a more humane society.
This crazy way of thinking used to be called racism and sexism. Now, it is being re-branded and sold as enlightenment. We should not fall for it. What this movement is truly about is causing permanent division in our country, which creates a role for perpetual advocacy by liberals who need a cause to feel fulfilled. It is a play for power at all of our expense.
I teach at Milwaukee Lutheran High School, where nearly the entire student body is inner-city, economically disadvantaged, Black kids.
We are constantly drilling into their heads that the course of their lives is not pre-determined and the ability to raise themselves from their present circumstances is all in their hands. For some of these kids, it is the only hope they have. If the whole of their existence was already fixed, but for others’ largess, then there would be no incentive to improve themselves. As a result, they would always be dependent on someone else for everything they have. That is why I am determined to fight this concept of “equity” tooth and nail until my dying breath. For my kids at school, and my kids at home, only they and God will determine their path.
• Shannon Whitworth is a Bradley Freedom Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and the Director of the Free Enterprise Academy at Milwaukee Lutheran High School.