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Are Universities Really Working to Recruit Minorities? (736 hits)

A recent interview with Nancy Sims, President of the Toigo Foundation, presents some compelling information about the perceived efforts of leading business schools to diversify their MBA programs. The Toigo Foundation was created in 1989 to increase the representation of minorities in the Finance industry. They argue that while the results are less than stellar, they show some degree of promise.

According to the interview, leading business schools have been working for years to increase diversity. The foundation claims that 18 of the top 30 business schools have increased their numbers of minority students over the last 10 years. The average went from 9.3 percent in 2000 to 13.4 percent in 2010. The numbers include underrepresented minorities who are not Asian students.

The results are peculiar and potentially misleading for a couple of reasons. First, the study claims that the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University led the way with an alleged 21 percent enrollment of underrepresented minorities in their MBA program in 2010. My brother graduated from the Johnson School MBA program this fall, and I was incredibly disappointed by the fact that among the hundreds of students graduating that day, I could count the number of black students on one hand. Of course, African Americans are not the only underrepresented minority group, but the black presence in this business school (as well as most other leading institutions) is virtually non-existent.

The second point of contention is that there is a presumption that business school diversity starts and stops with the composition of the student body. All the while, no one spends much time discussing the fact that many of the leading business schools, Cornell especially, are woefully inadequate when it comes to the numbers of underrepresented minorities on the faculty. Even when faculty positions are granted, they are typically visiting positions or openings designed solely for window dressing, with no relevance within the pre-existing power structure. This was a large part of the reason that many accused Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan of being a racist, given that she didn't hire a single black, Latino or Native American faculty member in over 30 hires as Dean of the Harvard University Law School. Given the thousands of highly-trained black professionals in the United States, such results are disgraceful, unacceptable, and nothing more than Americanized apartheid.

The disparities in minority representation in American business schools is symptomatic of white supremacy in quite a few ways. Most significantly, there is a perception that the lack of minority presence is due to African Americans simply being unqualified or unwilling to "step up to the plate" to take advantage of the opportunities in question. This is the "lazy black people theory," that presents the elitists who run such institutions as benevolent caretakers who are simply hoping that minorities will walk through the doors these universities have been gracious enough to open for them. The truth, however, is that many of these doors are closed, and I've got an email box full of notes from angry black professors who've jumped through all the hoops of qualification only to find that they're being consistently rejected by predominantly white institutions (one professor interviewed at a university in the southeast and was told that she didn't get the job because she talked too loudly during her interview).

There is also the belief that minorities are simply not good enough to get jobs or attend many of these institutions. The truth is that we are just as qualified as whites, but because whites are the standard bearers on educational achievement with the ability to reward and punish, there is the mistake of presuming that being different means that you are somehow inferior. I've gone through that problem at Syracuse University, given that my work in the black community has almost never been acknowledged or respected by any of those in the university's administration (Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson also went through similar problems at universities that refuse to recognize black scholarship as being important). If I were a white guy doing work of similar magnitude, I'd surely be sprinkled with a long list of awards and accolades. Thankfully, my mother taught me as a child that when you're black, you should expect to do twice as much for half the reward, so being rejected as an African American male never really bothered me. But anyone who truly cares about creating real diversity in American business schools will realize that a diverse population implies that a heterogeneous set of ideas are accepted and not that the black people will simply "civilize themselves" and learn to behave like their white counterparts.

As I looked on the stage of faculty at my brother's graduation at Cornell, I found myself amazed that some of the most brilliant minds in the world have been convinced that black people are absent from their ranks primarily because there is no black person on earth qualified to sit next to them. Rather than understanding that they live in a nation that has spent 400 years relegating people of color to the back of the socio-economic bus, some would rather believe that black people are simply just not good enough. That, my friends, is white supremacy at its finest.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.
Posted By: anita moore
Thursday, December 30th 2010 at 9:07PM
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I will take the white supremAcy and raisE you 20 young Black youth are going to CHANGE THIS! (SMILE0

Thursday, April 10th 2014 at 6:47PM
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