TheGrio Daily

Understanding the DEI Controversy

Episode 99

“They’d rather stop you from being on the team than for them to lose.” Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have recently become a flashpoint for conservatives but do you understand why? Michael Harriot explains that these policies are just another way for white Americans to push minorities out of the room. So instead of working with minorities and tapping into their skills and knowledge, they’d rather not have them on the team at all. Michael claims fear of being out performed is behind the racist tactics. 


[00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:05] You might have noticed that a lot of white people have been mad lately. I mean, okay, so maybe lately is the wrong word. Maybe forever is a better word. But they’ve been upset about a specific particular thing lately. And that’s why I want to welcome you to theGrio Daily, the only podcast that will tell you What’s So Bad About Diversity, Equity and inclusion. I’m world famous wypipologist Michael Harriot, and this is theGrio Daily. Yeah, man, I know y’all heard it. You know why people have been mad about diversity, about what they call DEI initiatives. Florida, as you’ve probably heard, the dictator of Florida, Ron DeSantis. He’s like getting rid of DEI initiatives out of the Florida higher education system. That is a thing that’s going around the country. It’s been called woke stuff. It’s been called anti-white and anti-racist. Like, I don’t know why white people want to be pro racist. I thought we were best being pro racist, but apparently not. But today we’re going to talk about DEI and what’s bad about it. The first thing, of course, like, you know how we do, right? Like when we begin, we like to define things. Right. And I think everybody know what inclusion means. It means the act of including or welcoming something. Diversity. Now, what does diversity mean? Well, Merriam-Webster defines diversity as the condition of having or being composed of different elements. Also, the inclusion of people of different races. So you see what diversity means, right? And equity. Well. Well, what’s the definition of equity? Equity is justice according to a natural law or right. So you have to have equity to achieve equality. 

Michael Harriot [00:02:28] Here’s a good example, right? Have you ever seen 100 meters in the Olympics? Everybody was in a straight line. And whoever reaches the finish line first, they win. But if you notice, when they won the 200 meters or the 400 meters, the start is staggered. Some people are back further than some people on the inside of the curve. And the reason why is because if you run on the inside of a curve, you are actually running a shorter distance. Then you run. If you run on the outside of the curve of that track. And so to adjust, they put the people on the inside lane further back than the people on the outside lane. So everybody will have to run the same distance. So for the race to be equal, they have to have equitable starting blocks. And so the same is true with the diversity, equity and inclusion, right? When you’re building a company, you want your work staff to be diverse. Well, why is diversity important? Well, so let me tell you a story. When I went to Auburn, I was in a fraternity and my fraternity had a service project. And there was one kid who just, I don’t know, glommed onto me and my friend. And this kid, somebody when he was a kid, taught him how to weld so he could take old bicycle frames, weld them together and make these six foot by circles. But for the bicycle to work, he had to rig up this system of pulleys and bicycle chains that made the bicycle easy to pedal. 

Michael Harriot [00:04:18] Well, one day my roommate was competing in this project that they had every year for a car, and you could create any kind of car that you wanted. But the competition was not how fast the car would go or who would win a race. It was how far the car could go on a given amount of power. So. My friend. His group could not figure out how to power that motor to get those wheels moving. And this 12 year old kid told them, “Hey, what if you don’t use the motor to turn the wheels? What if you use the motor to push a pedal and you rig the system like I do on my bicycle up to the wheels and the motor just has that pushed the pedals, which is easy, instead of turning the wheels?” They did it. And my friend’s team won that race that year. Now, this is an example of how diversity benefits a group or a team or a society. We like to think of diversity as being benevolent in gifting something to somebody, but in real life, right? The more diverse a group is, the better they are at handling problems. Right? Like, you don’t want to get lost in the woods and everybody is an engineer. You need some hunters. You need some people who know about plants. You need a diverse group. And companies and societies are like that, right? Like they work better when they are more diverse. And so we ain’t ging Black people no, you know, extra benefit when we make our staff diverse. We make the company better. And the people who are pushing back on it are people who never had to compete, they got to the race and they have the inside track. And they are arguing against staggering the starting blocks. They are arguing against equity. And because they are arguing against equity. They want any less inclusive space. And why? 

Michael Harriot [00:06:45] Because they got the inside lane. They got the inside track. And it’s not just being, you know, white people aren’t just born with money because they are poor white people. But they have to navigate a society that has benefited them for since the beginning. They technically counted as more of a human being. The laws were constructed to benefit them. And so now that they are in a race, they don’t want to have to race against people who are going to run the same distance. They are arguing against equality. Right. And so that’s why you see this push against diversity, equity and inclusion. They’d rather starve. They’d rather their team lose the competition because if they got to compete and they don’t have that inside track, they might lose. And they’d rather stop you from being on the team than for them to lose. And that’s how you got to understand this push way. And it goes back. It predates like this “woke” stuff that they’re talking about, right? It predates all of that, right. Like, that’s why the Founding Fathers agreed. Like, oh, man, the people in the South, they don’t want to have to run this race and pay the same taxes. So we’re going to tax the people that they kidnaped and human trafficking as 3/5 of a person. Right. When Black people fought for voting rights, they didn’t want to run an equal race. They didn’t want to. Have to exist in a political system that was equitable. So they say, Well, yeah, we’ll let the Black people vote, but we got to push their starting Black Bloc back further. They’re going to have poll taxes. They’re going to have to have literacy tests. They’re going to have to. Do stuff that white people don’t have to do. Why do we exclude the Black people but keep the white people included? Well, we’ll create a clause that gives us the inside track. And the clause would be based on what we know about the Constitution or our literacy or whether we paid our poll taxes. It will be based on what our grandfathers did and who are grandfathers are. That’s how the state of Louisiana created a grandfather clause. And that’s what they’re still arguing for. All of the efforts against diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t actually arguments for a grandfather clause to exclude white people from having to compete in an equitable race. 

Michael Harriot [00:09:52] And that’s why you got to tune in to this podcast every day. That’s why you got to tell a friend about it, and that’s why you’ve got to download theGrio app and that’s why we leave you with the state. And today’s saying is, “All things being equal, white people ain’t going to like that.” We’ll see you next time in theGrio Daily. If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app, subscribe to the show and to share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcast at 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:43] I’m political scientist, author and professor Dr. Christina Greer, and I’m host of The Blackest Questions on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. This person invented ranch dressing around 1950. Who are they? 

Marc Lamont Hill [00:10:56] I have no idea. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:57] This all began as an exclusive Black history trivia party at my home in Harlem with family and friends. And they got so popular it seemed only right to share the fun with our Grio listeners. Each week we invite a familiar face on the podcast to play. What was the name of the person who was an enslaved chief cook for George Washington and later ran away to freedom? In 1868, this university was the first in the country to open a medical school that welcomed medical students of all races, genders and social classes. What university was it? 

Roy Wood Jr. [00:11:31] This is why I like doing stuff with you, because I leave educated. I was not taught this in Alabama Public Schools. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:37] Question three. You ready? 

Eboni K. Williams [00:11:38] Yes. I want to redeem myself. 

Amanda Seales [00:11:40] How do we go from Kwanzaa to like these obscure. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:45] Diaspora, darling. 

Amanda Seales [00:11:47] This is like the New York Times crossword from Monday to Saturday. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:51] Right or wrong. All we care about is the journey and having some fun while we do it. 

Kalen Allen [00:11:55] I’m excited and also a little nervous. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:58] Oh, listen. No need to be nervous. And as I tell all of my guests, this is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves because Black history is American history. So we’re going to have some fun. Listen, some people get zero out of five. Somebody can get five out of five. It doesn’t matter. We’re just going to be on a little intellectual journey together. 

Eboni K. Williams [00:12:14] Latoya Cantrell. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:16] That’s right. Mayor Latoya Cantrell. 

Michael W. Twitty [00:12:18] Hercules Posey. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:20] Hmm. Born in 1754 and he was a member of the Mount Vernon slave community, widely admired for his culinary skills. 

Kalen Allen [00:12:26] I’m going to guess AfroPunk. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:29] Close. It’s Afro Nation. According to my research, and Samuel Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon. 

Jason Johnson [00:12:41] Wrong. Wrong. I am disputing this. 

Latosha Brown [00:12:43] Very, very, very  99.9999 sure that it is Representative John Lewis, who is also from the state of Alabama. That let you know, Christina, we got some good this come out of Alabama. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:55] There’s something in the water in Alabama. And you are absolutely correct. 

Diallo Riddle [00:12:57] The harder they come. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:00] Close. 

Diallo Riddle [00:13:01] Oh, wait. The harder they fall? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:03] That’s right. I’m one of those people that just changes one word. 

Roy Wood Jr. [00:13:08] I just don’t know nothing today. I’m going to pour myself a little water while you tell me the answer. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:12] The answer is Seneca Village, which began in 1825 with the purchase of land by a trustee of the A.M.E. Zion Church. 

Roy Wood Jr. [00:13:19] You know why games like this make me nervous? I don’t know if I know enough Black. Do I know enought? How Black am I? Oh, my Lord. We going to find out in public. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:27] So give us a follow, subscribe and join us on the Blackest Questions.