Fake Diversity and Racial Capitalism

Fake Diversity and Racial Capitalism


Nancy Leong, Professor of Law
Sturm College of Law
University of Denver

For decades now, it’s been fashionable for institutions of all kinds to showcase their racially diverse constituencies. This is true even when the institution in question has been sued for discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or other protected categories:…

…But behind the smiling, diverse faces, many institutions also share a dirty little secret. A lot of the diversity is the result not of the institution’s inclusive practices when it comes to recruiting, hiring, admitting or whatever other word is appropriate. Rather, it’s the result of Photoshop

…How can we explain this impulse to overstate diversity, either through Photoshop or through aggressive presentation of diversity? I examined this phenomenon in a 2013 article in the Harvard Law Review called “Racial Capitalism.” What I call racial capitalism is the process of an individual or group deriving value from the racial identity of another person. While in theory any group might derive value from the racial identity of another, in practice, since white people are historically and presently a majority in America, racial capitalism most often involves a white person or a predominantly white institution extracting value from non-white racial identity.

Racial capitalism explains why white people are so keen to tell you about their black friends. It explains why white people are so anxious to tell you about the diverse neighborhood they live in. And, more generally, it explains why people have a powerful incentive to display their affiliation with non-white people…

Read the entire article here.

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