Last Thursday, the Biden administration launched what its calling a Chief Diversity Officers Executive Council to help implement strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion training across the federal government. While researching my book, So You’ve Been Sent to Diversity Training: Smiling Through the DEI Apocalypse, I was plagued by the question: what kind of person aspires to become a diversity czar?
Unfortunately, no czars would speak to me, perhaps suspecting I may not have their best interests in mind. Instead, I talked to workers from across the economy about their experiences with DEI training on the job. From our conversations, I drew up a taxonomy of the DEI consultant. If, like most Americans, you’ve been forced in the workplace to sit through a tedious haranguing on race and gender, it likely came from one of four types of detestable reject, now sitting on an Executive Council at the White House: the Masochists, the Parasites, the Saviors and the Born Losers.
The Born Loser
Likely to be your company’s full time Diversity and Inclusion Officer, the Born Loser was once a true believer in the mission of the race monger industry. Words like “justice” and “equality” stirred a sense of purpose in the Born Loser, who always felt adrift and invisible. Somewhere along the way, the Born Loser stumbled upon an explanation for all his misgivings, ineptitudes, and the way everyone seemed to recoil from him. It must be due to something immutable like his race or sexuality. Wherever he went, he craved acceptance and celebration but only on his terms. Lacking self-awareness and grit, but plump with self-pity, he never wanted anything badly enough if it meant he, not others, was the problem.
The Born Loser’s feelings of inadequacy metastasized into a fastidious, monomaniacal pursuit of what makes people different, rather than the same, of material good versus material evil, of oppressor and oppressed. The Born Loser isn’t all that sure himself of what a paradisiac, just world looks like. He just knows this isn’t it. Everything comes down to questions of fairness, of what people are owed. As a child, he got his way by being annoying and pitied, and he carried that into adulthood. He ended up the worst kind of tyrant, the one whose name you can’t remember. He didn’t stoke fear but exasperation. Rather than love and human connection — where most people find happiness—his self-worth got tied to frivolous, impotent victories of minute intimidation.
Middle management might be a calling, and perhaps he tried that, but the job didn’t offer enough opportunities to make other people feel bad. He somehow wound his way into the role of Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Company X. The fat salary and lifetime job security soon weren’t enough to turn our restless Born Loser gracious. After a few years on the job, dark suspicions settled in. Perhaps this was all guff. Perhaps he really didn’t have much to offer.
That’s how you’re likely to find your Born Loser diversity czar — passionless and no longer the protagonist of even his own story. Instead he strives for joy in his personal life, perhaps in collecting things — like doll parts or old perfume bottles — and, of course, each day holds the promise of some other, unexpected thrill, like berating the dry cleaner or shaming a waiter into a free dessert.
In the totem pole of viciousness, the Savior’s gruesome Hannya grin takes the middle slot. Usually — probably always — a white woman or male homosexual, a few assumptions can be made about this breed of czar. You can bet she refers to her husband as her “partner” and he’s almost guaranteed to be Of Color, just not black. Even if she weren’t privately terrified of black men, which she is, she wouldn’t have been able to find one who’d put up with her domineering and condescending ways. He’s probably Asian, Indian, vaguely Middle Eastern, or a castrated Hispanic and, like most people, doesn’t like her too much but found a cushy nook to inhabit in her maniacal, zealous empire of caregiving.
The Savior isn’t very political — politics are too grimy — but she does know that No Human Is Illegal, Love Is Love, and Science Is Real. She never came upon a hand-carved Live, Laugh, Love wall decoration she didn’t appreciate. Whirlwind shopping trips to T.J. Maxx and treasure hunting at Goodwill stave off her tendency toward substance abuse. That, and nurturing the world. She is needed, and for that reason she must always be on.
She studied social work, psychology, or child development and may work in those fields when not explaining to your accounting department what a microaggression is. She subscribes to lots of journals and prides herself on keeping up to date on the latest studies and lingo. She’s here to take on your problems, but only after hers have been tucked away and sealed for the day. All she really wants from life is for people to be vulnerable and cry in front of her, but she saves her own crying for a twisted, heaving, full-blown meltdown once a month alone in the shower — a ghastly ruckus her partner and the kids have learned to just ignore. Still, wherever she goes — in the office, in the checkout lane, sitting in traffic — her self-assured aura of tender strength says I am present and I care.
Parasites in nature take many forms. Parasites are often cunning hustlers, vengeful brutes, and Mafiosi. They may be experts at exploiting loopholes or taking advantage of the good nature and hard work of others. The Diversity Parasite has moxie, much like the North American brown-headed cowbird. The brown-headed cowbird, or Molothrus ater, is a member of the blackbird family and one of several bird species known as brood parasites. With more than 220 known targeted host species, the brown-headed cowbird is one of the most prolific parasites in the world.
Bird families are tight, cohesive, and industrious. The brown-headed cowbird is not. She looks around covetously at her bird neighbors — happy, productive, betrothed robins, hummingbirds, yellow warblers, brown thrashers, and gray catbirds — and says, I’m going to burn that shit to the ground.
The brown-headed cowbird learns the comings and goings of her expectant bird neighbors. When the nest of another species is left unattended, she swoops in and plops a few of her own eggs into the brood. Her eggs hatch sooner, and her chicks grow faster than those of the host species. They gobble up all the energy and resources of the host parents. When it’s all over, after the cowbird chicks have starved their nestmates to death and exhausted the parents, they flap off to lay waste to the next happy, unsuspecting nest. If a host species spots the deception and destroys the interloping brown-headed cowbird’s eggs, the brown-headed cowbird mother will retaliate by destroying the host birds’ own eggs and smashing up the nest.
These are your critical race glitterati — the Nikole Hannah-Joneses and Ibram X. Kendis who stalk the halls of universities, newspapers, and the Big Tech and Pharma companies. They’re plenty available for corporate retreats and race seminars. The free-market rewards them with fame and fortune for the service of trashing the free market. They thrive on white guilt and white masochism.
“The life of racism cannot be separated from the life of capitalism,” Kendi writes in one of his books. “In order to truly be antiracist, you also have to truly be anticapitalist.” Kendi might be the biggest anti-antiracist of all then. He charges $20,000 an hour for virtual presentations. According to the New York Post, he’s “merchandised his entire line of ideas, releasing self-help products and even an ‘antiracist’ baby book. He gratefully accepts millions from tech and pharmaceutical companies on behalf of his Antiracism Center.” “Fighting Big Capital,” the Post writer commented, “is a lucrative enterprise.”
Kendi, whose real name is Ibram Henry Rogers, you see, has always been a victim of racism. He grew up middle-class. He attended private schools in New York City before moving to Virginia where he went to a top high school. Racism followed him throughout his careers at the State University of New York-Oneonta, SUNY Albany, Brown University, the University of Florida, Florida A&M University, Temple University, American University in Washington, DC, Harvard University and Boston University, where he currently teaches.
But racism wasn’t done with Kendi. Like a parrot on his shoulder constantly squawking the n-word, racism followed him relentlessly on national television appearances, at prestigious fellowships, and as he signed lucrative book deals with gilded publishing houses such as Macmillan, Nation Books, and Little, Brown. Then racism lay in waiting as his books landed at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.
I was weeks into my journey through diversity and inclusion training before I realized one of the industry’s most festooned templars, Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility, is white! Finally, some diversity, I thought. DiAngelo is a gnarled entity plagued by delusions of mighty evil lurking deep within herself that must be extracted and whipped, analyzed then torched, contained, monitored, feared and studied, discussed, considered, forever. This evil known as white supremacy cannot be conventionally slayed. Like the ghost of Voldemort it is shapeless and ethereal, a black mist choking the soul.
Another word for that is narcissism. “I grew up poor and white. While my class oppression has been relatively visible to me, my race privilege has not. In my efforts to uncover how race has shaped my life, I have gained deeper insight by placing race in the center of my analysis and asking how each of my other group locations have socialized me to collude with racism,” DiAngelo has said of her upbringing.
DiAngelo has a PhD in Multicultural Education, and her area of expertise is Whiteness Studies, which we assume isn’t about European Art during the Renaissance. In an academic article in 2011 she coined the term “white fragility,” which she went on to flesh out in a well-timed New York Times bestseller seven years later. On her website, under a page called “Accountability,” DiAngelo discusses continual education for white people on their privilege and antiracist behaviors, setting herself up, like most DEI hawks, for continued relevance and steady income.
Like alcoholism, DiAngelo’s skin color is a spiritual malady that manifests in destructive, real-world behaviors. Because your whiteness can only be kept in check and never cured, DiAngelo offers a twelve-step program on her website to keep yourself accountable. Step Eight reads: “Attend white affinity groups. In an affinity group, people who share the same racial identity meet on a regular basis to address the challenges specific to their group.” Woo boy, the last time we had Democrats forming white affinity groups it produced pointy hats and burning crosses, so be careful.
All white liberals are ethno-masochists. They’ll read someone like Kendi because they feel like they should, but they don’t enjoy it. He may have dark skin, but Kendi isn’t really black. He’s culturally white. He speaks the language of the white liberal but without any of the guilt. White liberals can’t relate to Kendi, but neither can most black people, for that matter. But throw them the juicy bad conscience of a middle-aged white woman and they’re as weak-kneed as Stacey Abrams at a Golden Corral.
Unlike the Savior, the Masochist does not carry your burdens, but her own, and for that you need to pay her. Professional self-flagellation doesn’t come cheap, but the flogger will ensure it’s as hassle-free as possible — at least for her. For $15,000 DiAngelo won’t even put on pants. According to the Washington Free Beacon that’s what she charges for virtual speaking engagements. DiAngelo recently lowered the cost to $12,500 for a public university. But when the university asked her to consider $10,000, she declined. The Washington Free Beacon reported the school eventually agreed to the $12,500 price tag and DiAngelo still couldn’t be bothered to give a live demonstration. She cashed the check and sent a prerecorded speech.