*I have previously written several articles about how most Americans are pretty clueless. The results of the last elections showed that. A lot of Americans stayed home, and people from states that depend heavily on government programs, such as food stamps, welfare and social security, elected Republicans — the very people who have said they plan to slash these programs.
MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, caught flak for referring to American voters as stupid, but he is right. Bill Maher, who is known for his biting comedy, recently ran a video montage showing all the times he had also expressed that Americans are stupid. If you need any further evidence of this, a recent YouTube video showed some Texas Tech students who were unable to answer basic questions, such as which side won the Civil War or who was the vice president. Of course, they all knew what show Snookie was on.
As much as we can laugh at these videos, there is something serious going on here. I don’t think people of color and women can afford to be that stupid. They need to be at the top of their game academically. White men will do fine, no matter how dumb they are. If they wear the right clothes, join the right country clubs and stick it out long enough, they will eventually get shunted up the ladder in Corporate America. George W. Bush is a great example. Bush never showed any great academic talent, but still graduated from two Ivy league schools. And after several failed businesses, he finally struck gold with the Texas Rangers, managed to get elected governor of Texas and used his family connections to win the presidency. The good-old boy network is alive and kicking.
I have worked alongside a lot of white men in Corporate America, and while they dominate the field, they are not always the best workers. I’ve seen white men who sexually harassed co workers, refused to show up to work on their first day and showed downright incompetence, yet they weren’t fired. The other white men in Corporate America will generally cut them some slack or overlook their flaws, until it reaches a breaking a point.
Other groups don’t have that opportunity. People of color and women are expected to be darn near perfect in Corporate America. Screw up a few times and you will be out the door. Chris Rock talked about this in an interview for the HBO documentary film “The Black List.” He said he lived on the same street as Jay-Z, and a white guy was his neighbor. The white neighbor was just an ordinary dentist. Rock pointed out he and Jay-Z were at the top of their games in their respective fields, but their neighbor was just an average dentist.
When quizzed about their lack of diversity, CEOs often say they can’t find qualified graduates of color. I find this hard to believe considering all the colleges that are churning out graduates. It is also a false argument because a lot of the white graduates they hire are not the cream of the crop, but they still employ them anyway.
So while white men can still flourish, in spite of being average academically, people of color cannot afford to follow in their footsteps. They need to excel in class. President Barack Obama is a great example. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and yet people still accuse him of being incompetent.
Black people have to be not only book smart, but street smart. A young black man not only has to know how to succeed academically, but also how to avoid the long of the arm law. They have to learn how to navigate the tortuous American criminal justice system and avoid “riding dirty.” Black men are also taught to be very careful in dealings with America’s trigger happy police force, who have a habit of killing them. Black men who decide to rely on street smarts alone often realize they need book learning, especially when they are faced with complex, sports/entertainment contracts. Ignoring the business side of show business is how many entertainers and athletes go broke.
Women are often held up to a higher standard than white men too. Sarah Palin was a good example of a woman who benefitted from white privilege, but also suffered the backlash of sexism. She was unqualified to be vice president, but no one ever asked how someone as dim as her ever got to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? There is no way a person of color, with her kind of baggage, would ever get that chance. And while Palin was pilloried for her lack of intelligence, the press went easier on Dan Quayle and George W. Bush, who were not intellectual titans. Being white men, they were given a bye, after all they looked the part. They had greying hair, played golf and looked good in a business suit. They fit in at the country club. There are plenty of people in Congress who are plain stupid, such as Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert, but they still seem to get elected.
White men might bleat about their supposed loss of status, but they still have a firm grip on the reins of power. (They’re just mad that they don’t have 100 percent of the pie anymore.) No matter what pseudo-news outlets such as Breitbart.com and FOX News say, the black and brown people and women are not taking over — at least not yet. According to Diversity, Inc., 1.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are black and only nine black men have ever been elected to the U.S. Senate. White men, even the mediocre, ones are doing just fine.
Clavell Jackson is the CEO of URoast, a company that produces personalized online roasts. For more information email [email protected] or go to www.facebook.com/uroast