No, disparity does not imply discrimination


Ibram X. Kendi, the prominent (and deeply mistaken) author of ‘How to Be An Antiracist’ recently wrote an op-ed in Politico about the need to pass an antiracist constitutional amendment. Kendi claims that racial inequity is ipso facto evidence of racist policy and the different racial groups being equal should reflect itself in statistics (I’m assuming he means nearly all). His plan includes a permanent ‘Department of Anti-racism’ comprised of formally trained experts on racism and would monitor racist ideas by public officials. 

This plan sounds straight out of a first semester political science student’s fever dream. The idea that any organization would be able to control life’s inequities in a nonpolitical fashion, while controlling the legislature without being corruptible, is an insane concept. In practice, this idea ignores the fact that people pursue power, and would be unlikely to use this power solely for the purpose of eliminating racism. Instead, one would likely see a situation more akin to a Ministry of Love in 1984, as opposed to the utopian idea that racism would magically be solved. 

Some people may agree with the obvious critique of the strategy proposed by Kendi but nonetheless agree with the principles of Kendi’s message, that disparities are mostly caused by discrimination, and that absent discrimination, people would likely be represented equally. 

This idea seems similarly ridiculous when one looks at the data. Walter Williams, an economist at George Mason Universitypoints out that Jews are merely 1% of the world’s population, yet are 20% of the Nobel Prize winners, and 39% of the U.S. Nobel laureates. Is it plausible that the Nobel committee has a pro-Jewish bias? Meanwhile, Asian Americans, less than 6% of the population, make up slightly more than 17% of the doctors. Does the field of medicine have pro-Asian bias? 

Even more treacherous terrain for the Kendi apologist is the acceptance rates of Asian Americans to prestigious schools. In a recent lawsuit, Asian Americans were shown to have the highest scores in academic ratings, though they received lower acceptance rates. However, Asian Americans still make up a fourth of the class of Harvard. Is this racism towards or against Asian Americans? 

Want to make a college activist’s head spin? There are huge discrepancies between immigrants from Nigeria and Somalia. Fifty-nine percent of Nigerian immigrants get a bachelors or advanced degree (around 31% of Americans do too) compared to only 10% of Somalian immigrants. Does this mean that Somalian people are less discriminated against compared to Nigerians?  

Kendi’s ideas about racism — that disparity equals discrimination — should hold similar merit when regarding sexism. Eighty percent of lightning strikes hit men. Perhaps a department of anti-sexism would see that this injustice is rectified. 

That is not to say racism and prejudice do not exist. They do. The bipartisan Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency seems to have no problem putting children in cages and giving women hysterectomies. It’s been admitted that the war on drugs had the intention of going after black people, but neither party has put real effort into ending it.  

Civil rights are still important and still need to be fought for, and it’s shameful that bunk scholars like Kendi can completely ignore the past and continuing oppressive actions of the state, call for the least methodologically sound hypothesis to approaching racism and be lauded as ‘anti-racist.’ 

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Thumbnail photo courtesy of @ibramxk on Instagram.

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