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If you don’t ‘resign for diversity,’ does that make you racist?

A meme was shared as a joke, saying that white people who believe in social justice should “resign for diversity.” But while it seems insane right off the bat, it is not a new concept.

A meme was shared as a joke, saying that white people who believe in social justice should “resign for diversity.” It was taken up by conservative thinkers and free speech absolutists who undoubtedly believe the opposite. But while it seems insane right off the bat, something that would likely give the lie to a social justice movement advocated for by white people who are unwilling to give up their own power, influence, or even careers, it is not a new concept.

Social justice activists and pundits have been suggesting for some time that white people should not just step back from the public conversation to give space to diverse voices, etc., but should leave it entirely.

It’s not new, but it’s certainly kicked into high gear—this idea that white people, by virtue of the ancestral sins of their race and the contemporary crime of blindly accepting and acting on their societal privilege, should step back from their positions of leadership.

A column by Sohum Pal in a 2017 issue of Yale News instructed: “White students: Take a few steps back. You already know: when we enter white-dominated spaces, we take on the implicit roles of leadership, expending invaluable emotional and intellectual labor. It is time we were given the titles and power we deserve.”

An AMS blog in the same year told white people, specifically “white cis het” men: “Not to alarm you, but I probably want you to quit your job, or at least take a demotion. Statistically speaking, you are probably taking up room that should go to someone else. If you are a white cis man […] you almost certainly should resign from your position of power. That’s right, please quit. Too difficult? Well, as a first step, at least get off your hiring committee, your curriculum committee, and make sure you’re replaced by a woman of color or trans person.”