Many years ago, I was charged with running a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study on rising Hispanic business in the U.S. I worked with many Hispanic scholars and organizations, including the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. One of the recommendations in the draft report, written by a Cuban-American diplomat and scholar, was that Hispanic-Americans needed to purge their culture of toxic habits and traditions that undermined business success, and the primary example was tardiness and a lack of concern with meeting deadlines and appointment times.
The point was especially vibrant because the meetings of the group were almost always delayed while we waited for several key members who wandered in anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour after the designated time.
There was some animated debate over this, because some members—not just the habitually tardy ones—tried to argue that impugning the “manyana” attitude tradition would be an insult, allowing “white” values to erase “brown” ones, and declaring non-Hispanic culture “superior.”I remember the debate well: it was notable for the fact that none of those objecting to endorsing the habit of making appointments, being on time and meeting deadlines had anything but weak rationalizations to support their position. Yes, meeting deadlines was more efficient; yes, yes, being on time to appointments showed respect and created trust in a business environment; true, Hispanics being constantly late validated negative stereotypes. OK, not being late all the time was a positive habit that was one of many that magnified the chances of business success. But…but…this is our way! It’s always been our way!
The section on needing to end the tardiness tradition was in the final report.
I was reminded of that debate when I read that the the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), a state government agency that coordinates medical care and social well-being, had issued an email informing the community that a scheduled conversation between OHA officials and relevant members of the public would not take place as planned. The email, from Regional Health Equity Coalition Program Manager Danielle Droppers, read,
“Thank you for your interest in attending the community conversation between Regional Health Equity Coalitions (RHECs) and Community Advisory Councils (CACs) to discuss the Community Investment Collaboratives (CICs). We recognize that urgency is a white supremacy value that can get in the way of more intentional and thoughtful work, and we want to attend to this dynamic. Therefore, we will reach out at a later date to reschedule.”
The contention that any value and habit of success that has contributed to the success of American society is a vestige of white supremacy and should be devalued, ignored or rejected is creeping cultural rot in minority communities and increasingly in the mainstream community as well. More than 50 years ago, black activists derided the need for African-Americans to speak standard English: using grammar and avoiding street slang was “talking white.” Lately we have heard that proficiency in mathematics was a “white” value; also the concepts of merit-based advancement and achievement. Obeying laws…marrying…all sorts of conduct that have led to success for others and that have magnified maladies in the black community when they have been ignored are now being denigrated as part of the “systemic racism” attack on responsibility, accountability and common sense.
It appears that Dropper’s cultural poison was inspired by the work of “antiracist” consultants and educators like Tema Okun, whose website advances the idea that several benign and widespread traits are actually characteristic of white supremacy. She points to preferring quantity over quality, requiring agreements and commitments in writing, and perfectionism among other markers of racism, as well as a sense of urgency. As self-evidently bats as it is, Okun’s work is often cited in educational equity workshops, as is the similar work of Judith Katz, another antiracism huckster.
This is a purely destructive fad, delusion, whatever you want to call it. A sense of urgency, to return to the example at hand, isn’t a “white supremacy value,” it is a universal, unequivocally useful value that causes individuals, organizations and societies to be more successful than those incapable of it.
Anyone who writes, says or thinks what Dropper wrote is unfit to operate any community service, and is, in fact, a danger to their communities as well as being incompetent as an administrator or leader.
But The Great Stupid rolls on, and how much destruction it will wreak on our society and nation before it explodes in a final odoriferous conflagration, spewing hot pus, bile and slime in its death throes, I cannot begin to guess…