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Wake Forest University School of Law




Diversity may be under attack in the age of Trump, but higher education in America has its own diversity problem. If mission statements and strategic plans offer any guidance, many of America’s colleges and universities actively value diversity. Yet even as calls for diversity grow, these calls far too often lack a clear and coherent normative anchor. Institutions often seek “diversity” without first having done the work to define, precisely, why they want diversity, or to identify, concretely, what sorts of diversity will get them there.

As a result, universities have become susceptible to diversity drift, whereby good intentions invite unintended — and at times, perverse — consequences. Seemingly innocuous language (as simple as calls to hire and admit “diverse people”), for instance, risks reifying whiteness as an institutional baseline against which students and faculty of color are rendered perpetual outsiders. And untethered to history, context, and power, calls for diversity can fall victim to false equivalencies that deny any principled distinction between those who would #TakeAKnee to honor Black lives and those who travel the college circuit to mock, demean, and insult.

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