June 19, 2014


So why does the “mostly white” meme persist about tech companies? I think it’s because those who are obsessed with diversity for diversity’s sake have a hard time reconciling one very inconvenient truth: If you want to equalize the races—be your concern tech companies or colleges, the two places this argument seems to pop up more than anywhere else***—you must do so at the expense of Asian Americans. Rather than saying “Ugh, these institutions are disproportionately Asian,” the diversity set says “Wow, these places are mostly white!” While accurate(ish), this kind of dodges the question, doesn’t it? Because it’s not so much the proportion of white folks as the proportion of black and hispanic folks that concerns them. It’s no fun for the diversifier to say “Geez, we need fewer Asians at these institutions to make way for blacks and hispanics.” Forcing them to acknowledge the costs—more blacks and hispanics means fewer Asians, if proportion is all that matters—creates a serious mental tension. That mental tension leads to a mental block. And that mental block leads to the brain spitting out the following formulation: “These companies are mostly white!”

Cognitive dissonance. It’s a hell of a drug.

And it’s a drug in widespread use.

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