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The Bias Fallacy

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from the magazine

The Bias Fallacy

It’s the achievement gap, not systemic racism, that explains demographic disparities in education and employment. Autumn 2020
The Social Order
Economy, finance, and budgets

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.

This journalistic theme has deep roots. For decades, reporters could all but guarantee themselves front-page placement by tallying shortfalls in the “diversity” of a firm or profession. Depending on the moment, sex counts might dominate the discrimination genre, as during the height of the #MeToo movement. Currently, however, we are back to pure race tallies; indeed, female leadership buys an institution no credit from the media, if that leadership is white.

These current diversity exposés are distinguished from their predecessors not just by their frequency. Virtually all mainstream institutions now agree that a nonracially proportionate workforce proves racism, including their own. Organizations preemptively accuse themselves of discrimination without waiting for the inevitable indictment. The publisher of the Science family of journals denounced his own publications for “the discrimination, subjugation, and silencing of minority colleagues and voices.” The American Mathematical Society pledged to “address systemic inequities that exist in our mathematics community.” The dean of the Harvard Business School apologized that “we have not fought racism as effectively as we could have and have not served our Black community members better.”

The remedy proposed for this alleged systemic bias is an even greater emphasis on race as a job qualification. Increasing the role of skin color in employment decisions, however, will compromise the caliber of American institutions, if bias does not, in fact, explain workforce disparities. Moreover, the insistence on America’s racism undermines the legitimacy of our polity. It is worth examining in some detail, therefore, the charge of systemic bias and the counterevidence against it—especially since that counterevidence is excluded from public discourse.

Since the George Floyd riots, the following ratios have tumbled out of news pages to buttress the racism charge: 3.7 percent of Google’s employees and contractors are black, compared with about 13 percent black representation in the country at large; at Salesforce, 2.9 percent of employees are black; at Facebook, 3.8 percent; and at Microsoft, 4.5 percent. Black investors make up less than 1 percent of venture capitalists and less than 1 percent of the startup founders whom those venture capitalists underwrite. Some venture-capital firms—among them Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia, Benchmark, and Greylock—have no black partners at all.

Eight percent of MBA students are black, according to the main business school accreditor. Harvard Business School students are 5 percent black. In 2019, about 4.1 percent of chief executives were black, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Two percent of venture-capital partners in Los Angeles are black or Hispanic. Blacks and Hispanics are 3.7 percent of industry-certified financial planners. Seventy-seven percent of new board members at Fortune 100 companies are white. The newsroom at the Los Angeles Times is 61 percent white, though the white population in Los Angeles County is 26 percent white. Black journalists at the Los Angeles Times are 5.2 percent of staff, though the county is 8 percent black.

At WNYC, the nation’s largest public radio station, 15 of the 157 staff members responsible for content are black; only one of these 15 has direct reports. WNYC’s newsroom leadership is “overwhelmingly white,” according to the New York Times, and most reporters are white.

The press and activists slice and dice the numbers to get the black proportions as low as possible. At Google, though 3.7 percent of employees and contractors are black, only 2.6 percent of leadership and 2.4 percent of technical workers are black. Blacks make up 3.8 percent of Facebook’s employees, but only 3.1 percent of those are in leadership roles and 1.5 percent of those are in technical roles.

Backing up the demographic data in the flood of racism journalism are blacks’ personal testimonials of being discriminated against. The rule in evaluating such testimonials is: “If a Black person tells you that they’re feeling something is racist, just believe them,” as a mental-health advocate told the Wall Street Journal in July. This is the mandate of the Believe Survivors movement as well: members of official victim groups are entitled to automatic credence. To test a claim of discrimination or sexual assault against the evidence makes official victims “unsafe” and violates their sanctity. Thus, the routine complaints of employees in nearly every workplace are converted into unfalsifiable proof of discrimination when articulated by a particular group of employees. If a white job applicant is not hired, it’s acceptable to assume that he was less qualified than other applicants. If a black job applicant is not hired, it’s because of discrimination. If a white employee is not promoted, it’s possible that another employee was more deserving. If a black employee is not promoted, it’s because his employer is resistant to blacks, as a recent legal complaint against Facebook alleges. Facebook is desperately trying to boost black and Hispanic representation in its workforce. Yet, if we are to believe the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, Facebook makes it harder for blacks to get hired and promoted, thus undermining its own costly diversity efforts.

A black virtual-effects specialist in Los Angeles told the Los Angeles Times that peers and supervisors constantly undermined her. “I can’t really think of any space I’ve been in where it wasn’t assumed that someone was smarter than me,” she said. “People, speaking generally of non-Black people, always make the assumption that I don’t know how to code, that I don’t have any tech skills, that I got a job because of affirmative action; it’s just ridiculous.” White employees at a virtual-reality startup were promoted, while she got pushed out.

A black food writer recounted in the New York Times that the editor of Saveur magazine barely lifted his head while interviewing her for an entry-level position and didn’t read her résumé. Such peremptory behavior exemplifies the racial microaggressions that have kept the writer back, she claimed.

A “social-impact manager” at Pinterest, a social media site, received a minor rebuke during a performance review. She had successfully urged the company to adopt a racial-justice initiative. According to her supervisor, however, she should have presented Pinterest’s decision- makers with other options as well. The supervisor’s critique reflected the company’s bias against minority employees, she said.

A black reporter at the Los Angeles Times felt targeted by higher-ups. “Some days, I would cry and ask the editors: ‘Why am I being treated this way?’ ” she told the paper. Then she realized that she was experiencing not just personal but “institutional” racism.

“Routine complaints of employees in nearly every workplace are converted into unfalsifiable proof of discrimination.”

An assistant professor of counselor education at the University of Virginia is denied tenure. The University of Virginia, like Big Tech, is desperate to hire and promote as many minorities as possible. Its education school is an outpost of woke correctness. Nevertheless, the tenure denial was the result of racism, especially since the tenure committee had no “people of color” on it. “Black people, including Black academics, have to be twice as good,” the professor’s wife told the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Feeling undermined by peers, passed over for inferior candidates, and unappreciated in job interviews once was considered the ordinary lot of office workers. These petty indignities become proof of racism, however, when suffered by blacks. It is taboo to suggest that noncompetitive qualifications ever play a role in any lack of black advancement.

Woe to a CEO who hires a high-placed white professional in the current climate. The Wall Street Journal began a recent story on the lack of diversity in finance with a profile of Wells Fargo’s new CEO, Charles Scharf. Scharf faces the unenviable task of resuscitating the banking giant from a 2016 consumer finance scandal. When Scharf began at Wells Fargo last year, he brought trusted colleagues with him from J.P. Morgan and the Bank of New York Mellon to fill crucial positions. The Journal plunged in the knife: All were “white men.”

The massacre was just beginning, however, and Scharf had abetted it. He had told Wells Fargo employees in June that he would tie executives’ bonuses to the diversity of their units and that he would double the number of black senior leaders by 2025. Such promises were part of the flood of antiracism pledges then pouring out of C-suites in response to the Floyd riots. The day after Scharf’s June 16 diversity e-mail, he announced Wells Fargo’s new head of wealth management, another lateral hire from J.P. Morgan. The Journal’s punch line was visible from a mile away: the hire was another white man. It was not necessary to ask if comparably qualified black bankers were available for the job; the Journal simply assumed that there were. Indeed, it is unlikely that Scharf himself evaluated the composition of the relevant hiring pool when he announced Wells Fargo’s latest diversity mandates; nor did he reconcile those new hiring mandates with the thousands of planned layoffs designed to offset the bank’s falling revenues.

Managers grovel before the charge that they have discriminated against black applicants and employees. The managing editor of the Los Angeles Times is “personally” doing a “lot of self-assessment,” she said. “It’s hard when you realize that you have failed in some ways. I’m sorry for that, and I am pledging to do better.” The Times’s deputy managing editor also “will do better.” And the executive editor, Norman Pearlstine, will do best of all. “I have been taking a hard look in the mirror,” Pearlstine told the staff in June. “I haven’t liked everything I have seen.” But in October, Pearlstine announced that he was leaving the paper, unable to withstand the racial quota brigade.

A few years ago, the founder of a Southern food heritage group received accolades from the New York Times for his work. Now he has to apologize for being white. “I want to embrace the critique,” he told the Times. “I’m still at it and I appreciate it.” Admittedly, his remedial options are limited. “Time has run out” for him, say his critics. The University of Mississippi announced in September 2020 that it will audit the Southern Food Alliance for “institutional racism and patriarchy.”

Given management’s prostration before every charge of bias, it is no surprise that diversity demands are increasing in stridency and scale. The Los Angeles Times must hire 18 black journalists, regardless of need or revenues, and issue a public apology for racism. Public radio station WNYC must hire two black reporters and two black producers in 100 days, to make amends for hiring a white woman as editor-in-chief. None of the white WNYC staffers who signed the diversity petition, including influential talk-show host Brian Lehrer, volunteered to resign in order to rectify the station’s racial imbalance.

Companies’ self-initiated diversity goals are no less sweeping. Half of Facebook’s workforce will come from “underrepresented communities” (i.e., black and Hispanic) by 2023, according to Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg—a remarkably ambitious pledge in light of Facebook’s current 3.8 percent black workforce.

A long series of similar pledges preceded these recent ones; none was fulfilled. Apparently, systemic racism overrode whatever good-faith intentions the promisers had at the time. What is never asked is the proportion of competitively qualified blacks in the hiring or promotion pool. It is taken as an a priori truth that they are available in the same measure as in the population at large.

But the expectation of proportional representation in every profession is groundless, thanks to the academic skills gap. The unequal distribution of skills, not bias, explains the lack of racial proportionality in employment.

The median black eighth-grader does not possess even basic math skills. “Basic” skills, as defined by the National Assessment of Education Progress exam, means partial mastery of grade-related knowledge. Fifty-three percent of black eighth-graders scored “below basic” on math in 2017. Only 11 percent of black eighth-graders were proficient in math, and 2 percent were advanced. By contrast, 20 percent of white eighth-graders were below basic in 2017, 31 percent were proficient, and 13 percent were advanced. Only 12 percent of Asian eighth-graders were below basic, 32 percent were proficient, and 32 percent were advanced.

The picture was not much better in reading. Forty percent of black eighth-graders were below basic in reading in 2017, 17 percent were proficient readers, and 1 percent were advanced readers. Sixteen percent of white eighth-graders were below basic in reading, 39 percent of white eighth-graders were proficient readers, and 6 percent were advanced readers. Thirteen percent of Asian eighth-graders were below basic, 45 percent were proficient, and 12 percent were advanced readers.

Graph by Alberto Mena

Black students never catch up to their white and Asian peers. There aren’t many white-collar professions where possessing partial mastery of basic reading and math will qualify one for employment. The SAT measures a more selective group of students than the NAEP, but even within that smaller pool of college-intending high school students, the gaps remain wide. On the math SAT, the average score of blacks in 2015 was 428 (on an 800-point scale); for whites, it was 534, and for Asians it was 598—a difference of nearly a standard deviation between blacks and whites, and well over a standard deviation between blacks and Asians. The tails of the distribution were even more imbalanced, according to the Brookings Institution. Blacks made up 2 percent of all test takers with a math SAT between 750 and 800. Sixty percent of those high scorers were Asian, and 33 percent were white. Blacks were 35 percent of all test takers with scores between 300 and 350. Whites were 21 percent of such low scorers, and Asians 6 percent.

In 2005, the Journal of Blacks in Education estimated that there were only 244 black students in the U.S. with a math SAT above 750. Brookings used an estimation procedure that maximized the number of high-scoring black students and came up with, at most, 1,000 blacks nationwide with scores of 750 and above. Whether the number is 250 or 1,000, it means that the STEM fields, medical research, and the ever-more mathematical world of finance cannot all have a 13 percent black participation rate, at least if meritocratic standards remain in place.

The SAT gap is replicated in graduate-level standardized tests. Between 2014 and 2017, the average score on the quantitative section of the Graduate Record Exams (GRE) was 150.05 out of 170. The Asian average was 154.1; the white average, 151; and the black average, 144. MIT’s entering engineering class in fall 2017 had an average GRE quantitative score of 167; students in the University of California, Berkeley, civil and environmental engineering program averaged 160, as did graduate students in USC’s engineering program. Even if the curve for blacks on the quantitative GRE is normally distributed in a bell curve, unlike for the math SATs, there will still be fewer blacks with higher-end scores than whites and Asians, given that the average black quantitative score is so much lower.

The organizers of the various STEM antiracism protests, such as #ShutDownSTEM, #ShutDownAcademia, and #BlackInTheIvory, argue that bias drives the lack of black representation in quantitative STEM fields. Brian Nord, a visiting astronomer at the University of Chicago and organizer of Strike for Black Lives, wrote in a manifesto: “To say that I, as a Black man in America—as one of the few Black physicists in nearly all of my scientific collaborations, as one of the few Black physicists of my generation—am stressed, is an understatement that speaks to your lack of understanding about what is happening right now.”

But there are simply not enough black STEM Ph.D.s to go around. In 2017, blacks made up 1.2 percent of all doctorates awarded in physics to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, according to the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. Blacks earned 0.9 percent of all mathematics and statistics doctorates, 1 percent of all doctorates in computer science, 2 percent of all doctorates in chemistry, and 1.7 percent of all doctorates awarded in engineering disciplines. There were no black Ph.D. graduates in medical physics, atmospheric physics, chemical and physical oceanography, plasma/high-temperature physics, logic, number theory, robotics, or structural engineering. How academic STEM departments and Silicon Valley tech firms are going to fulfill their diversity pledges in light of that dearth of supply is a mystery. Yet in July 2020, MIT’s president blamed his own institution for not making headway on “racial equity and inclusion,” despite years of quota-izing effort. Virtually every other college leader has issued the same self-indictment.

Graph by Alberto Mena

The Law School Admission Test is similarly skewed. The gap between white and black scores on the LSAT in 2013 was a 1.06 standard deviation. In 2004, only 29 blacks, representing 0.3 percent of all black LSAT takers, scored 170 or above on the LSAT, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. The average entrance score was 170 for the top-ranked law schools. There were 1,900 whites who scored at least a 170, representing 3.1 percent of all white test takers. Of black test takers, 1 percent—or 108 blacks nationwide—scored at least 165 in 2004, 165 being the average for the top ten law schools. Over 10 percent of white test takers—or 6,689 whites nationwide—scored at least 165. That gap has only grown, and it affects law school outcomes. Of black law school graduates, 22 percent never pass the bar exam after five tries, compared with 3 percent of white test takers, according to a study by the Law School Admissions Council. The skills measured by the LSAT and the bar exam—verbal reasoning, command of English, logical thinking—are required for a range of professions, whether corporate management and consulting, banking, or journalism. As for the law itself, if corporate law firms do not have a proportional number of black partners, it is not for lack of trying.

The mean black score on the business school admissions test (GMAT) in 2017 was 453, on an 800-point scale. The average for whites was 565, for Asians 586, and the overall average was 549. Only 15 percent of black test takers scored 600 or higher in 2017, compared with 45 percent of whites and Asians. Sixty-six percent of black GMAT takers scored less than 500. In 2018, students entering the top ten business schools, as ranked by The Economist, had average GMATs ranging from 690 to 732. The Journal of Blacks in Education estimated in 2006 that only 1 percent to 2 percent of black GMAT takers scored above 700, a proportion that has not likely changed. A former Harvard Business School professor told the Wall Street Journal in June that he had quit to protest the school’s systemic “antiblack practices.” An expectation of high-level quantitative skills was likely among those antiblack practices. Far from discriminating against blacks, the Harvard Business School admits at least twice as many black applicants as their average GMAT scores would predict. Nevertheless, Dean Nitin Nohria claims that the school’s efforts at racial justice have been “painfully insufficient.” California has now mandated minority representation on the boards of corporations headquartered in the state, regardless of whether the quota hires possess business expertise; other states will follow suit.

Medical schools have instituted large racial preferences because blacks’ Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores would otherwise make a “critical mass” of black students unattainable. As with the math SAT curve, black MCAT scores cluster at the bottom-left tail of the distribution. With each higher tranche of scores, the black percentage drops to low single digits. Between 2013 and 2015, about 53 percent of black MCAT takers scored 23 or lower, corresponding to 496 and below on the new MCAT scale. A 23 (or 496) is the 34th percentile and would be disqualifying for whites and Asians. The Princeton Review recommends a score at least in the 80th percentile for medical school applicants.

Blacks in the next, still very low, tranche of MCAT scores and with low GPAs are admitted to medical school at nearly ten times the rate of similarly situated Asians and at seven times the rate of similarly situated whites. Over 56 percent of blacks with low MCATs and low GPAs are admitted to medical school, even though such scores predict failure on the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination Step 1. Less than 6 percent of Asians and 8 percent of whites are admitted under similar circumstances. Race plays so large a role in medical school admissions that a free online calculator of acceptance likelihood uses only three variables: GPA, MCAT score, and race.

A paper published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in March 2020 argued against racial preferences in medical school admissions. Years of research showed that students admitted under a preference regime disproportionately end their studies because of poor grades and have a harder time passing the medical licensing exam. Blacks are less likely to be admitted into a residency program than whites and Asians because of their academic records, even though graduate medical school education also doles out large racial preferences. The paper’s author, director of the electrophysiology fellowship program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, called for the colorblind evaluation of future doctors based on their “personal merits,” rather than on their racial identities.

“The myth of bias, whether in medicine, technology, or finance, can be maintained only by ignoring the skills gap.”

The paper attracted only minor objections initially, according to MedPage Today. Once the #ShutDownSTEM movement hit over the summer, though, the paper and its author, Norman Wang, became the target of a blistering attack. A cardiologist in Virginia tweeted that the paper was emblematic of “systemic racism.” The paper sends the message to minority trainees that they owe their position to affirmative action and that their presence in a medical specialty reflects a decline in standards, the cardiologist complained. Actually, the data on medical school admissions show that the large majority of blacks attend the schools they do thanks to racial preferences, which continue throughout a trainee’s medical career. Virtually every medical school uses racial preferences, aka “holistic admissions.” If preferences were not so key in engineering “diversity,” academic gatekeepers would not so fiercely defend them as the only mechanism capable of producing diversity.

The director of diversity and inclusion at the Mayo Clinic tweeted that the paper should inspire rage and activism, reported MedPage Today. The president-elect of the American Heart Association, who chairs the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University, wondered how the paper could have been published, given its “unbalanced, unscientific, and untrue statements.” The president-elect offered no examples of such untrue statements. The American Association of Medical Colleges also claimed that the paper lacked factual accuracy, without providing any examples.

Now both the paper and Wang himself have been retracted. The editor of the Journal of the American Heart Association condemned “discrimination and racism in all forms,” apologized for publishing the article, and then retracted it. The Journal would be “improving” its peer-review system, the editor said, to ensure that it avoids such “missteps” (i.e., publishing the facts) in the future. The American Association of Medical Colleges expressed its hope that other journals would revise their peer-review process as well, with the undoubted goal of ensuring that a challenge to racial preferences does not occur again.

Wang lost his position as a director at the University of Pittsburgh Heart and Vascular Institute. One of Wang’s colleagues at the medical school tweeted that she and other University of Pittsburgh faculty “denounce this individual’s racist beliefs and paper.” She was apparently unwilling to sully herself by naming the reprobate.

The myth of bias, whether in medicine, technology, or finance, can be maintained only by ignoring the skills gap. There simply are not enough competitively qualified black candidates to go around. Moreover, one-third of all black males have a felony conviction. Such convictions do not happen by chance; they signal involvement with the street culture of guns, drugs, and impulsivity, none of which is a selling point to employers. The prevalence of out-of-wedlock births in the black community (over 69 percent of all births) means that a high percentage of black females are burdened with solo child-rearing responsibilities. Such responsibilities make advancement more difficult, no matter the amount of employer paid leave.

As long as data on the skills and behavior gap remain available, it is possible to challenge the myth of bias, at least in theory. So those facts must themselves be canceled, as well as anyone who publicizes them. That is the ultimate motivation for the movement to end the use of standardized tests in admissions. All minimally selective institutions of higher education practice race-norming in the evaluation of test results already, holding blacks and Hispanics to a lower standard than whites and Asians. The tests do not impede racial preferences; colleges simply ignore the results for the sake of diversity.

The reason to eliminate standardized assessments is rather to put the College Board and the Educational Testing Service out of business entirely—and with them, any possibility of an objective measure of intellectual skills. The College Board was dealt a body blow this May when the University of California announced that it was ending the use of the SAT and the ACT in admissions for state residents. The SAT was a “racist test,” said the Vice Chair of the UC Regents, Cecilia Estolano. More than 1,000 colleges have already made the SAT optional or eliminated it entirely, but none has the financial clout of the University of California, the largest consumer of College Board products.

Graduate programs have been dropping the GREs because of their disparate impact. Half of all physics and astronomy departments, and nearly as many molecular biology and neuroscience programs, no longer require them. Cornell’s department of biomedical engineering, known for its diversity advocacy, and the University of Michigan’s biomedical sciences program have eliminated them. At the University of California, San Diego, the computer science and engineering, bioengineering, and nanoengineering programs are eliminating or waiving the GREs. UC San Diego’s graduate division dean recommended in July 2020 that the rest of the school’s graduate programs follow suit. Harvard and Caltech’s physics departments suspended the general GRE and the physics subject test in 2020, citing coronavirus concerns; they will likely not reinstate them.

The MCATs are in the crosshairs because of their disparate impact, even though they predict performance on the medical licensing exam. Medical school grades are also a racist practice. This spring, Columbia University medical students demanded that their professors stop grading them. Protest organizers warned that any medical student who refrained from signing the anti-grading petition would be publicized as someone content to “sit in their own privilege” at the “expense of their black and brown peers.”

At least one medical residency program is ignoring grades already. The University of Pennsylvania postgraduate surgery program disregards medical students’ grades, their scores on the medical licensing exam, and their membership or nonmembership in the medical school honors society. Instead, the surgery program focuses on “leadership, teamwork, altruism, and research activity” in admitting graduates to the surgery residency. Miraculously, those criteria favor blacks.

The rejection of objective standards of accomplishment is nihilistic. One could argue that the academic skills gap itself reflects structural racism in the distribution of school funding and private capital. (Such a claim ignores the trillions of public and private dollars that the U.S., with the best of intentions, has allocated to close the gap.) But to maintain that colorblind tests are meaningless in demonstrating cognitive mastery is to deny the very possibility of assessing accomplishment. Knowledge and skill exist, and they are measurable, if not always perfectly. Standardized tests are under attack only because blacks and Hispanics, on average, score poorly on them. If there were no group differences in outcome, no one would think about eliminating the very measures that were introduced to overcome group favoritism.

The next step in the unwinding of objective standards is to reject the notion of accomplishment itself. It has become career-ending to hold that some individuals or cultures achieve more than others. The ever-more sweeping deprecation of Western civilization refuses to acknowledge the West’s unparalleled contributions to human progress. And now the behavioral norms that lead to individual success are being relativized as well. The National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington declared this past summer that rationality, the two-parent family, punctuality, self-control, and being polite were “white” traits. The museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution, thus strengthened the underclass stigma against “acting white,” defined as trying hard in school and obeying one’s teacher. How the Smithsonian’s leaders thought that they were helping black children by teaching them to scorn “hard work” and “delayed gratification” goes unexplained.

The museum eventually removed its chart on “white culture” from the Internet after an outcry from conservative media. Yet this typology of whiteness has been a dreary feature of corporate diversity trainings and freshman orientations since the 1990s—and the removal of the chart was only a minor setback in the ongoing attack on bourgeois virtues. The KIPP charter school network long distinguished itself with its high expectations for inner-city children and its insistence on self-discipline and conformity to basic norms of respect. No longer. This summer, it retracted its motto “Work Hard. Be Nice” as part of its push to “dismantle systemic racism.”

America’s elites have apparently decided that if, after five decades of massive financial outlays and obsessive attention from policymakers, the academic skills gap has not closed, it is time to break up the objective yardsticks that measure it. The same will happen regarding crime data. At present, data that show the vastly disproportionate rate of black criminal offending are still available from a few local police departments. Expect to find such facts harder to obtain from government agencies until they are disappeared entirely.

The myth of bias is destroying our most fundamental institutions. Given the unequal distribution of skills, it is irrational to expect proportional representation in every profession. Yet elite whites would rather blame themselves for phantom racism than acknowledge the skills gap. American culture almost psychotically embraces the fiction that enough competitively qualified blacks are available to achieve universal racial proportionality, were white supremacy not America’s defining trait.

To be sure, thousands of blacks outperform whites and Asians, thanks to study and self-discipline. But the ubiquity of racial preferences casts doubt on their legitimate achievements and leaves them open to the suspicion that they advanced because of the color of their skin. The question, Do you owe your college seat or your job to affirmative action? is not racist, pace the virtual-effects specialist in Los Angeles quoted above. The question is almost unavoidable under the current regime.

The hatred unleashed by the myth of bias is tearing down urban life. Violence and public disorder are being excused in the name of racial justice. The only solution to the darkening prospects for a civilized existence is honesty about the cause of racial employment disparities and an unapologetic embrace of hard work and high expectations for all.

Top Photo: Alex Brandon/AP Photo

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