In my recent post, I noted the absurdity of Nexdoor CEO Nirav Tolia’s claiming to hire H-1Bs on “diversity” grounds:
The notion that Nextdoor, located in San Francisco, has to resort to hire foreign workers because the locals lack diversity is laughable.
I’d like to illustrate that with an incident that occurred in my office a few days later. There were four students in my office, all undergraduates and all Americans except one. One was ethnic Chinese; one has Russian parents; one is a foreign grad student from India; and the fourth was your typical white girl.
Or so I thought. The “typical white girl’s” mom turned out to be Filipino. (Other than this student’s dark hair, her Asian background was invisible, so I was fooled.)
The Chinese guy speaks Cantonese, and he and I briefly chatted in that language. The Russian woman speaks Russian and has studied Korean and Japanese; the Anglo-Filipino girl understands Tagalog, and has picked up a fair amount of Chinese from her friends.
A few years ago, our then-chancellor (white) had the “brilliant” idea that all UC Davis students should be required to spend a quarter abroad, so as to broaden their cultural horizons. Well, he may have grown up in White Bread America but most UCD students did NOT.
Diversity is a great concept, and maybe we need more of it in some venues. (Social class is a separate issue.) But here in California we are ALREADY quite diverse. The misapplication of the Diversity Card, whether deliberate deception as in Tolia’s case or arising from just plain ignorance as in the chancellor’s case, is A Good Concept Gone Wild.
And by the way, when the chancellor presented his idea to a group of us campus committee chairs, an African-American professor in one of the social science departments said to the chancellor, in an irritated and not very polite tone, “I write and teach about the U.S. You are demeaning my work.” Indeed.
In discussions about H-1B, defenders of the program imply that those complaining are white males who don’t have a high degree of tolerance to those of other races. Again, this is playing the Race Card, whether deliberately or out of ignorance. Look at the picture of H-1B victims in the New York Times article the other day — how many white males do you see? Look in any undergraduate computer science classroom at a California university; how many white males do you see there? And no, the vast majority at the undergrad level are Americans, not foreign students.
And though Silicon Valley firms say they would love to hire more African-Americans, but they are nowhere to be found, this claim also sounds disingenuous. I’ve mentioned before the case of a young black man from a Top-5 university whom I know to be very talented. He actually was hired as an intern by Google when he was a student, but only for a management training program, not as an engineer.
As Senator Grassley once said, “No one should be fooled.”