In his recent USA TODAY interview, Silicon Valley Pioneer Ken Coleman wondered, “The real question is, what might I have done or been if I had been White?” Madison Avenue Pioneer Roy Eaton was told at his first interview, “If you were White, I’d hire you immediately.”
Another question to consider: “What if all of Coleman’s and/or Eaton’s White peers had been Black (or held to the standards placed upon Blacks)?” Imagine how some of the Whites might have fared if they had been restricted, scrutinized and judged—and expected to perform at the same ultra-extraordinary levels as Black executives of the times.
Stereotypical gripes surrounding diversity include the concern that hiring minorities would lessen the quality of the overall workforce. This belief is pure bullshit. Eaton, for example, was far more than a jingle writer—he was a renowned, classically trained composer and musician. His mother inspired him with the notion of doing 200% to get credit for 100%. If White candidates had been required to match Eaton’s credentials and qualifications—and consistently deliver 200% for 100% credit—just think of how high the quality of the overall workforce would have risen.
Perhaps the question should simply be, “What might I have done or been if I had not faced institutionalized discrimination and racism from Whites?”