According to a new Associated Press article,
Spelman College President Beverly Tatum has championed racially diverse relationships for most of her life: as a child growing up in New England, as a young professor teaching about the psychology of racism, and as an author writing about cross-racial interaction.
Predictably, Tatum criticizes the recent Supreme Court decision barring the racial assignment of students in Seattle and Louisville.
Tatum said the Supreme Court decision does not bode well for people who would encourage a diverse environment for themselves and their children.
She pointed to housing patterns that continue to create fairly homogeneous communities across the country — meaning that even cities that are diverse overall are separated on a block-by-block level.
Because many school districts are decided by where people live, segregated neighborhoods will usually translate into segregated classrooms, she said.
“When people leave work or turn off the television, they find themselves in a non-diverse environment,” Tatum said. “In their day-to-day interactions, children have fewer opportunities to interact across racial lines. The choices are getting narrower and narrower.”
The cycle of segregation can be broken at the college level, but with affirmative action programs threatened at institutions of higher education, that opportunity may also be shrinking, Tatum said.
There is nothing surprising or in the least bit novel about Tatum’s views. Indeed, they are par for the course for preference-pushing diversiphiles. What is glaringly odd, however, as I pointed out (here) several years ago with regard to Ms. Tatum, is that this plaintive lament over the decline of “diversity” comes from the president of one of the least “diverse” colleges in the country. Since she hasn’t changed her tune, I see no reason to change the response I wrote then.
Discussing an article she had published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, I wrote:
she asks, but in my opinion fails by a long shot to answer, a good question:
Given that point of view, I am often asked why I would choose to lead an institution as “homogeneous” as Spelman College. Of course, the question is based on a flawed assumption. Although 97 percent of our students are racially categorized as “black,” the student body is, in fact, quite diverse. Spelman students come from all regions of the United States and many foreign countries, from white suburban and rural communities as well as urban black ones. All parts of the African diaspora are represented, and the variety of experience and perspectives among the women who attend the college creates many opportunities for important dialogue. There is a developmental moment in the lives of young people of color when “within group” dialogue can be as important, or perhaps even sometimes more important, than “between group” dialogue. And even in the context of a historically black college, it is possible to create opportunities for both.
This doesn’t work. First, Spelman is a woman’s college, which means that right off the bat it excludes half the human race. And then, apparently by preference and design, 97% of its students are black, or rather “are racially categorized as ‘black.’” But no matter. Whites, according to Michigan and the Supremes, are deprived of educationally crucial diversity if they are not exposed to a critical mass of minorities, but blacks, being diverse among themselves, suffer nothing in a student body that contains only 3% of non-minorities.
Tatum mentions that Spelman is quite selective in its admissions, attracting “4,000 talented young women competing for 525 spaces in our first-year class.” Although she favors “diversity” and “inclusiveness,” her article does not mention whether bonus points or other preferences (say, for overcoming the burdensome effects of being raised in religiously or racially isolated environments) are offered to white applicants.
Several years after first encountering President Tatum’s argument, I’m still not sure whether her view that blacks can be “diverse” but whites can’t is more inane or offensive. Perhaps I’ll just settle for hypocritical doublespeak.