The 10 whitest diversity hires of all time

OPINION: While racists have weaponized the term, it’s time we recognize the white people who pioneered the position of “diversity hires.”

(Adobe Stock Image) Credit: Adobe Stock

OPINION: While racists have weaponized the term, it’s time we recognize the white people who pioneered the position of “diversity hires.”

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Following an “on-air insurrection,” NBC News has reportedly overturned the will of the people who elected to hire an election-denying, vote suppressor who targeted Black voters in Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race. 

 “I have decided that Ronna McDaniel will not be an NBC News contributor,” wrote NBCUniversal News Chairman Cesar Conde in a staff memo obtained by The Daily Beast. “No organization, particularly a newsroom, can succeed unless it is cohesive and aligned. Over the last few days, it has become clear that this appointment undermines that goal.”

NBC’s reversal follows the network’s decision to pay the former Republican National Committee Chairwoman $300,000 as an on-air contributor. The agreement sparked a “vocal revolt” among the on-air talent in the network’s broadcast news division, as well as its cable counterpart, MSNBC. Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid, Joe Scarborough and Chuck Todd all voiced their displeasure over working with one of the architects of “The Big Lie.”  

Another “diversity hire” bites the dust. 

Merriam-Webster defines diversity as “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements…especially the inclusion of people of different races.” However, according to Elon Musk and people who successfully reengineered newer, whiter definitions of “woke,” critical race theory and racism, a “diversity hire” is an incompetent employee who snatched a position from a more qualified Caucasian because of anti-white diversity policies. To white people, any Black person who outranks a white man must be a diverse hire, including airline pilots, medical doctors and the mayor who won Baltimore’s 2020 election by 50 percentage points. Although this invective usually refers to women and people who bathe regularly, there are millions of white people who fit the definition of a diversity hire. 

To celebrate these unqualified, mediocre pioneers of white privilege, we compiled a list of the whitest diversity hires of all time.

10. Ronna McDaniel 

As only the second woman to lead the RNC and its longest-serving chair, Ronna McDaniel is the quintessential diversity hire. 

She studied English before becoming a third-generation Republican legacy. Prior to her stint as the head of Michigan’s Republican party, McDaniel’s grandfather (Michigan Gov. George W. Romney), grandmother (Lenore Romney), mother (Ronna Stern Romney), and uncle Mitt Romney all worked for the GOP in varying capacities. But does nepotism, privilege and a lack of education in the field necessarily make someone a diversity hire? Does McDaniel fit the “unqualified” part of the definition?

Well, during her tenure as RNC chair, the GOP lost eight governor’s races, four net Senate seats, 20 House seats and the popular vote in two presidential elections. Axios called McDaniel’s fourth term as RNC chair “an unprecedented vote of confidence for a leader who has thus far failed to preside over a single positive election cycle.”

 9. Jared Kushner/Ivanka Trump (tie) 

I’m sure you remember when Ivanka’s real estate husband Jared Kushner created peace in the Middle East.

Me neither.

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Just because Ivanka served as her daddy’s economic advisor during the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression doesn’t mean she’s as unqualified as her husband. It’s not her fault that she was executive vice president of an organization that committed tax fraud. Sure, the former model has never held a job that her father didn’t give her. But, as one of the few women in the historically white Trump administration and the “most powerful Jewish woman in America,” Ivanka only had one job: to focus “on the education and empowerment of women… as well as job creation and economic growth.” 

A literal diversity hire. 

8. Arthur Smith

Even though the Atlanta Falcons ex-head coach never played a down of professional football, he was one of the most consistent coaches in the NFL, leading the Dirty Birds to a 7-10 record during his 3-year stint with the organization. 

Smith began his NFL coaching career in Washington, following a college career where he played exactly one game at the University of North Carolina. While many wondered how someone so unqualified could ascend so quickly, it probably helped that Smith’s father was Frederick Smith, the founder and CEO of FedEx and a minority owner of the NFL’s Washington franchise that just happened to play at FedEx field. To be fair, working for a franchise founded by a racist who named the team after a racist slur is not what makes Smith a diversity hire. 

In a league that’s 53% Black and only 24% white, white men have held 85% of the NFL’s general manager jobs and 84% of head coach jobs since 1993. Historically, Black head coaches are more successful than their white counterparts. So, imagine how hard an NFL owner has to work to find all those unqualified, incompetent white men.

Now that’s diversity.

7. Lauren Boebert

As a member of a party that champions law and order, family values and the importance of education, Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) is the epitome of a diversity hire.

The high school dropout got her GED a few months before she was elected to Congress, which may be why the teen mom wants to ban sex education from public schools. Although Boebert has a criminal record that is longer than Donald Trump’s, the pro-life, pro-death, anti-gay Christian nationalist’s public displays of affection prove her support for the former president’s genital-grabbing policies. And now, the recently divorced single mom of a single father is seeking re-election in a district where she does not live by claiming she is “willing to fight for…conservative principles.”

You can’t get more diverse than the least educated, least qualified criminal in Congress. 

6. Post Malone

Even though Post Malone is not very good at rapping, he is very good at being white. 

He knows how to apologize for saying the n-word and is skilled at cultural appropriation. Hailing from the mean streets of Syracuse, New York, and the hoods of suburban Texas, Malone willingly employs black stereotypes such as “smoking like a Rasta,” for his “homies pulling up on your block.” One could easily criticize him for rhyming “shottas” with “grrra-ta-ta-ta,” but he claimed he doesn’t make rap music. And, after Charlemagne tha God asked Malone about supporting Black causes, the Post told Rolling Stone that Charlemagne tha God “hates me because I’m white, and I’m different.”

What’s whiter than accusing someone of reverse racism?

Ok, there’s one thing. Of all the people on the planet who have ever held a note, diversity is the only logical explanation for why the NFL chose Post Malone to sing “America the Beautiful” at the 2024 Super Bowl LVIII

5. Tommy Tuberville

Alabama’s senior senator was a football coach before being elected to America’s most powerful legislative body.

Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) earned a degree in physical education, which might explain why he doesn’t know how things work, including the three branches of government, World War II or racism. But he’s from Alabama, where college football coaches are the highest-paid public employees in the state. More importantly, Tuberville is a white man in a state where being qualified doesn’t matter. 

In Alabama, being white is more important than actually being from Alabama.

4. Christopher Rufo

The pro-white activist who redefined critical race theory is actually a diversity hire.

Christopher Rufo somehow parlayed a make-believe master’s degree from Harvard University into a position as the senior fellow and director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute. In an effort to smother state-sponsored diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently appointed Rufo to the board of trustees at the New College of Florida. Despite having no formal education, training or experience in academics, history or teaching students, he somehow became one of the most influential people in far-right politics.

Because… Whiteness.

3. Joe Biden

Let’s be honest, Joe Biden was a diversity hire.

I’m not saying Joe Biden wasn’t qualified to be president. He was an experienced legislator who served as  vice president. Part of why Biden got the job as former President Barack Obama’s running mate is that his white maleness counterbalanced white voters’ reluctance to vote for a Black man with all those vowels in his name. And after the Obama-inspired “racial resentment” that gave us four years of MAGA antics, who was better positioned to restore America to normalcy than an old white man? During the 2020 primaries, Biden didn’t even try to argue that he was the most progressive candidate. He campaigned on the fact that he could defeat Trump.

Turns out, he was right.

2. Elon Musk

For a second, let’s forget that Elon Musk didn’t invent the electric car. Set aside the fact that Tesla already existed when he ousted the owners. Ignore the fact that so-called “genius” overpaid for a company that is steadily losing customers and advertisers.

Before civil rights activists successfully fought for the Immigration Act of 1965, the National Origins Formula severely restricted immigration from non-white countries. Besides changing the racial makeup of the country, the 1965 legislation opened up immigration from Musk’s homeland, South Africa.  

Diversity, equity and inclusion is literally why Elon Musk can call himself an American.

1. Donald Trump

In 2016, the white people who voted against Obama because of his lack of experience turned around and cast ballots for Trump because he was an “outsider” who “wasn’t a career politician.” In 2020, the same voters who previously suffered from “economic anxiety” voted for the candidate who presided over the biggest unemployment surge since the Great Depression. In 2024, the white people concerned over Biden’s age will vote for a 77-year-old who can’t remember where he put the classified documents. The desire for diversity explains why white evangelical Christians are willing to overlook Trump’s adultery, profanity and racism. It is the only logical reason why fiscal conservatives are willing to ignore how he increased the debt.

America didn’t elect Trump because he is racist. 

Donald Trump became president because America is racist.

Michael Harriot is a writer, cultural critic and championship-level Spades player. His book, Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America, will be released in September.

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