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WRIGHT: Diversity statements need to be tossed away

Column: The Black Light

Big technology corporations, like Google, were quick to release "Diversity Statements" in wake of the George Floyd protests. These statements are nothing but parroting a worthy cause for corporate gain. – Photo by Wikimedia

Since the start of America, white Americans have not been able to see how Black Americans navigate the country in which we live. Public lynching, abuse of power or blatant racism to our front doorsteps — you name it, and Black Americans have faced them and overcame them through the years.

As we all sat home during the first few months of this pandemic, there have been umpteen video recordings, pictures and stories of Black Americans being lynched, on the opposite side of abuse of power and facing even more blatant racism, all in a country where we were supposed to be sitting down and finding the “cure” to this terrible virus (the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or racism), that has run rampant this year.

In response to the death and public lynching of George Floyd this past May, white men and women took it about themselves as “allies” to denounce racism on their platforms how they saw fit. 

Facebook was a warzone in this battle to denounce racism between white people. I had seen a former high school faculty member of mine denounce the actions of the protestors in Minnesota, but not the actions that brought about this civil discourse. Instead, she took to Facebook to call the protestors “thugs” and other terms that many would deem as “coded racism.” 

On that post alone, I saw many white “allies” take to action in denouncing racism wherever fit, and they went on for days in that comment section to try to prove to this one lady why she is racist. 

The vigilance that these white individuals took to in that faculty member’s comment section was some of the same sentiment that was spewed in many of the “Diversity Statements” that businesses and franchises put out in response to the adversity seen by all of America in 2020.

You know that feeling when you do all of the work in a group project and everyone else in the group gets credit for something they did not put effort into? 

That same feeling is how Black Americans feel when these fudging (in the spirit of "A Christmas Story") companies undermine the Black struggle with their “Diversity Statements.”

In 2020, these same organizations have seen firsthand that the Black community gets our a**es kicked left and right, by the police, COVID-19 and the government. 

These blanket “Diversity Statements” do not address the elephant in the room. 

As a Black man, seeing these statements do little to nothing in “healing” or in the least sense, paying attention. Instead, it is covering bases to appease everyone in the schoolyard, not the one being bullied constantly. 

That one day in the summer, seeing everyone on my Instagram timeline posting black boxes to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, did more than these “Diversity Statements.” At least those black boxes had a direct motive, whereas with these obtuse “Diversity Statements,” there was never really a direct message. It was just covering bases. 

As 2020 has now ended, I hope organizations, colleges and universities see the death of “Diversity Statements” in response to one specific demographic being treated unjustly. 

To all universities, businesses and other organizations, I promise it is morally correct to side with Black people (or any other marginalized demographic for that matter) in their time of hurt. These blanket statements that personal relations teams create to appease more white people and elevate their “false” sense of awareness need not make it through this year. 

Amir Wright is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and minoring in africana studies. His column, "The Black Light," runs on alternate Fridays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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