The United States is being torn apart by an idea: that racism defines America. The death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in late May 2020 catapulted this claim into national prominence; riots and the desecration of national symbols followed. Now, activists and their media allies are marshaling a more sweeping set of facts to prove the dominance of white supremacy: the absence of a proportional representation of blacks in a range of organizations. That insufficient diversity results from racial bias, claim the activists, and every few days, the press serves up another exposé of this industry or that company’s too-white workforce to drive home the point.
In one short stretch during the summer of 2020, the Wall Street Journal ran stories headlined “Wall Street Knows It’s Too White” and “A Decade-Long Stall for Black Enrollment in M.B.A. Programs.” The Los Angeles Times asked: “Why are Black and Latino people still kept out of the tech industry?” In another article, the Times documented its own “painful reckoning over race.” The New York Times pumped out news features and op-eds alleging racism in food journalism, Hollywood, publishing, and sports management, among other professions. The Chronicle of Higher Education painstakingly reported on protests against alleged racial bias in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, citing, for example, charges that black scientists are constantly “attacked by institutional and systemic racism.” All the articles invoked employment ratios as proof of racism.