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White billionaires undermine D.E.I. following end of Affirmative Action


High profile conservatives set new social agenda

“Harvard must once again become a meritocratic institution which does not discriminate for or against faculty or students based on their skin color, and where diversity is understood in its broadest form so that students can learn in an environment which welcomes diverse viewpoints from faculty and students from truly diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

—Hedge fund billionaire 

Bill Ackman on Jan. 4, 2024.

As the sod is still fresh on the grave of the presidency of former Harvard helmswoman Claudine Gay, one of the key ringleaders of her downfall, Harvard alum and mega-investor Bill Ackman (net worth estimated at $3.9 billion) continues his quest against affirmative action and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (D.E.I.). He has called for the resignation of his alma mater’s Board of Overseers for backing Gay during her tenure as president. This includes board chair Penny Pritzker, who previously served as Secretary of Commerce under former U.S. President Barack Obama, which indicates possible political motivations.

Ackman has previously explained his aversion to these efforts to elevate the marginalized of American society.

“Resentment is one of the most important drivers of racism. And it is the lack of equity, i.e, fairness, in how DEI operates, that contributes to this resentment,” he said in a 4,000 word essay on the social media platform X posted on Jan. 3. All this is part of a component in the present polarization of American society that spans every facet of this democracy.

He is not alone in his endeavors.

His political cronies who helped unseat Gay include: journalist Chris Brunet whose writing prompted scrutiny into Gay’s alleged plagiarism; Harvard alum and conservative activist Christopher F. Rufo who highlighted Gay’s alleged antisemitism and plagiarism; and fellow investment investor and former GOP presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy who’s been a chronic critic of the ousted Harvard’s head.

Gay’s six months and two days as president is the shortest in Harvard history.

Why are you here? 

Defining the American Dream

Upward mobility-the capacity or facility for rising to a higher social or economic position.

—Webster’s Dictionary

Once upon a time in the hardscrabble south a young Black boy withstood the oppression that was a staple of his environment, becoming a solid academic in the process. His progress was inordinately difficult because his first language was not english, but the regional dialect known as “Gullah,” a sort of “pidgin English” spoken by slaves with origins in countries like Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

Prominent descendants of the Gullah-Geechee culture include athletes Jim Brown and Michael Jordan, former first lady Michelle Obama, and little known 18th century slave insurrectionist Denmark Vesey. For this particular kid, this handicap may have become a blessing as he became an intent listener, an asset in his future career as a jurist.

“I just think that it’s more in my nature to listen rather than to ask a bunch of questions,” he said later as an adult.

In any event, his scholastic success continued into his collegiate career. Initially his reaction led to his adoption of the regalia of the extreme left, à la military fatigues and combat boots. A poster of Malcolm X dominated his dorm room before his transition from hardcore radical to stalwart conservative, a process initiated by the reception he received from his peers in this new environment.

“You had to prove yourself every day because the presumption was that you were dumb and didn’t deserve to be there on merit,” Clarence Thomas recalled about his attendance at Yale Law School. At the time of his enrollment, the school was pushing for a 10% minority enrollment for its aspiring litigants. His Juris Doctor degree not-with-standing, his inability in gaining employment as a corporate lawyer soured his opinion about affirmative action.

Why Are You Here? 

An alternative experience

“Affirmative Action was in place when I obtained federal and state jobs.”

—Elaine Moore

Elaine Moore’s saga began back east in her native Maryland. “I remember President (Lyndon Baines) Johnson really pushing Affirmative Action, she remembers from her formative years.

Now retired, the Howard University alumnae benefited from the government push for opportunity by gaining entry to the Census Bureau, where she in turn experienced backlash by folks at the other end of the spectrum. Early on a co-worker on the same career tract, while never confronting her directly, was openly hostile to her presence in the same environment as he was a White male professional.

Hers was and is, an experience common to scores of people of color belonging to her generation as they attempted to pierce the glass ceiling of bastions previously reserved for those entrenched in privilege as members of the establishment.

White people have always had affirmative action,” she says. “It’s called ‘the good ole boy network.’”

After a progression of upward mobility facilitated by a move westward and graduate school at the University of Southern California, she enjoyed a positive decade’s long tenure at El Camino College in Torrance in various positions including a counselor, instructor, and program director.

“My 99% on a state test proved that I was eligible to at least be considered,” she recalls.

She was revolted by the forced resignation of Claudine Gay.

“I thought it was a racist and misogynist movement,” she declares.

Defining a level playing field

“Black Americans are working now where they were not working 10 years ago. Black Americans, Brown Americans, Americans of every color and every condition are eating now and shopping now, going to the bathroom now and riding now, and spending nights now and obtaining credit now, and giving now, and attending classes now, going and coming in dignity as they were never able to do in years before.”

—Former President Lyndon Johnson

 on Dec. 12, 1972.

Moore remains grateful for the opportunities afforded by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Johnson.

“The results  of Affirmative Action  and the opportunity it has provided in employment has led to the greatest increase of African-Americans into the middle class.”

At the same time it has aroused animosity among those whom former president Richard Nixon and his vice-president Spiro T. Agnew called the “silent majority”, exposing their fears of “the browning of America.” This may be a motivation for support the far right enjoys in the judicial system and the academic realm.

Meanwhile, diversity opponent Edward Blum has turned his sights on the race-conscious admissions at the United States Military Academy at  West Point. Equal opportunity advocates counter that much of the racial tension/violence observed during the Vietnam War erupted because of resentment towards an overwhelmingly White officer corps.

As Moore points out, this adds up to a quagmire not likely to be resolved, at least in the foreseeable future.

Tags: Elaine Moore, Michelle Obama, Claudine Gay