Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Generations of Wokeness

 From City Journal:

Anxiety about racial gaps—understandable given America’s history, but often corrosive in practice—has persisted over time. Discussing the thought of Manhattan Institute fellow Glenn Loury from the 1980s through the present, Porter notes a constant tension in the public debate between blaming whites for the poor performance of minority groups and stressing the practical need for self-help on the part of those who fall behind.

In roundabout and uncomfortable ways, the United States keeps coming back to the questions of why some groups are better off than others—and whose responsibility it is to change that. Over time, some terminology has evolved: for example, from “equality of opportunity” versus “equality of outcomes” to “equality” versus “equity.” And the modern vogue of equity-focused “wokeness” has reached heights of ridiculousness that 1990s-era “political correctness” could only dream of. Porter recounts some of the most notorious examples, often drawing on the reporting of City Journal’s Christopher F. Rufo, of major corporations and other institutions subjecting their employees and/or students to accusatory lectures about white privilege and “anti-racism.”

When this kind of thinking collides with the topic of cultural and behavioral differences across groups, the results aren’t pretty. Some tar as racist the idea that such differences could even exist, despite their ubiquity. For an opposite approach to the issue, consider the Smithsonian infographic (eventually taken down but reproduced in America Challenged) declaring nuclear families, hard work, and planning for the future to be aspects of “white culture,” apparently not to be expected of other groups. Such thoughts began in an obscure 1990 document from a diversity-obsessed consulting firm and found a much higher-profile outlet three decades later.

Race-based affirmative action is another issue that never disappears. Like bilingual education, it saw conservative victories in decades past via ballot referenda. California voters got a second chance at that decision a few years ago, too, but ultimately concluded that they got it right the first time. In the coming term, the Supreme Court will also take a fresh look at the issue. Observers expect it to limit dramatically the practice on college campuses. (Read more.)


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