“This Is Not An Oversight”: Ta-Nehisi Coates On ‘Accidentally’ White Environments and The New Republic -The Toast

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office“White people are often sincerely and greatly pained by racism, but rarely are they pained enough. That is not true because they are white, but because they are human…Earlier this year, Foer edited an anthology of TNR writings titled Insurrections of the Mind, commemorating the magazine’s 100-year history. “This book hasn’t been compiled in the name of definitiveness,” Foer wrote. “It was put together in the spirit of the magazine that it anthologizes: it is an argument about what matters.” There is only one essay in Insurrections that takes race as its subject. The volume includes only one black writer and only two writers of color. This is not an oversight. Nor does it mean that Foer is a bad human. On the contrary, if one were to attempt to capture the “spirit” of TNR, it would be impossible to avoid the conclusion that black lives don’t matter much at all.”

If you read the Toast, you read Ta-Nehisi Coates, so in the strictest sense, there’s no need for me to draw your attention to his piece about The New Republic that ran on The Atlantic this week. (If you were not terribly familiar with The New Republic before last week’s dustup, don’t be too hard on yourself; no one can read everything.) He does such a careful, lovely, incisive job dismantling the “oh how could this possibly have happened, in an ideal world of course we’d love to have a more diverse workplace, diversity is very important to us, it’s a complete mystery to me how we ended up almost-exclusively-white” attitude so common among white employers and event-creators and conference-founders.

If you are white, and you own or manage a mostly-white workplace, diversity is not something that will happen to you by accident. Workplace diversity is not a nice thing to have if you find the time and energy but something you can easily do without. Overwhelming whiteness is the enemy of creativity and truth; it must be actively resisted on every level, from hiring to editing.

“For most of its modern history, TNR has been an entirely white publication, which published stories confirming white people’s worst instincts.”

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