tv Pamela Newkirk Diversity Inc. CSPAN November 10, 2019 10:00pm-10:45pm EST
>> [inaudible conversations] hello, everyone. welcome back to barnes and noble at the westside. i'm excited that you are all here tonight. we have an amazing author who will be here talking about her new book and i hope you are as excited as i am. for those of you that do not know her is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism at new york university who has written extensively about diversity in the news media and the arts world. the author of the life of the
naacp image award and black journalist white media that led the national press club award for media criticism. both books are available on the table as well. the articles are regularly published in nature media including the "washington post," "new york times," the guardian, the nation and chronicle of higher education. let's face it she knows what she's talking about here. in the latest release the failed promise of the billion-dollar business it is an exploration of how the workplace diversity turned to a profoundly misguided industry and has done little to bring quality to the major industries and institutions. but the book also highlights the success stories sharing valuable lessons about how other industries can match those games in chile if we are to deliver on the promise of equality, we need to abandon ineffective costly measures and do what it takes to challenge. on the back of the book the
award-winning author how to be an antiracist had said she's written a book i've been waiting to read. the statements and consultants are not working and she explains why. institutions can do better and diversity explains precisely how. tonight we have john walsh -- joining is the national affairs correspondent for the nation as well as the cnn political tribute or. we have two amazing and intelligent fantastic women here tonight. without further ado please join me in welcoming pamela and joan walsh. [applause]
>> thank you. hello. hello, everybody. i am very happy to be here. i love pamela and her work. i was very attracted to the title and idea of the book because i think we all know that we are spending billions of dollars to put a band-aid on a donald trump. the book is more than that. it goes into how all kinds of institutions are dealing with this even when they are not bringing on consultants and doing these kind of ineffectual
things for better and worse. let's just start with the industry. i mean, how do we have an industry that is so expensive and yet so in the not effectual? >> spending a lot of money means you are doing something. and in the case of diversity initiatives, the question that i started out with is why do you keep doing the same thing and expect different results? we have been doing the same thing for 50 years and counting. the needle is barely moving. i didn't even realize how bad the numbers were until i started doing the research for this book.
going across fields whether we talk about the arts partnershi partnerships, academia. you know, i am a tenured professor i'm among the 4% in the country. and that includes historically black colleges and universities. so, when you look at the billions of dollars that are being extended without any accountability, and we have constructed this elaborate apparatus of diversity. we have it down. we have a task force and we do the climate surveys that we have hired the consultant. we hired the diversity of hours. i remind you that if this happens after some embarrassing episodes. talk about, and gucci, you name
it. starbucks, nfl. and they know who to call. there is this industry and they are treated as one person who does this for a living. the day are treated like fire extinguishers and then they were pretty much forgotten about. she has a lot of numbers in the book and i am a complete nerd i don't want to bore you with them. one of the numbers that blew me away about the industry it is a totally unregulated industry. there is really no standard. there is no no like this is howu get certified. one of the things that blew me away is 35% of the diversity professionals have no access to demographic data of their companies. so how do you do with diversity and say we want to see more diversity and elevate people that are underrepresented that you don't even know.
you can see where the problems are. >> that is an indication exhibit that maybe they are not as serious about diversity as the rhetoric as the expenditures would suggest. >> google spends 114 million. you were looking at 2014. 3% of the workforce. so they are doing well. but what are they not getting? you've got some success stories we should talk about. >> that is the good news in this book because a lot of times we
are writers and we are good at analyzing problems. we are usually not as good at finding solutions to those problems. there are effective models and if the institutions are really serious about this, you know, if they want to go beyond having sort of symbolic diversity to do the work, a major company that i looked at was coca-cola and they settle the landmark discrimination lawsuit and what they did is part of the settlement they established a task force and the task force oversaw everything that he was doing in diversity. they hired someone that was actually serious about the job. he got into the metrics of it so he examined numbers throughout
the company like who was being hired, what kind of jobs, how much were people making it the same ranks, what kind of patterns of bias could be detected in the been disrupted in real-time. so, they did this over five years and they dramatically change shtick the numbers and culture and i'm not suggesting that it was easy or perfect, but it does eliminate how one might go one way then actually transforming a workplace just like throwing money at it. >> it's interesting to me because it came ou about with ae all suits obviously. a lot of pressure and it is an atlanta-based company. so it's like you know, the cradle of the civil rights movement.
there are professionals coming out of all those schools so there was never an excuse. and you know, what a lot of companies have continued to say when they are called out on this is the pipeline. if that were true in the 1960s, i will give you that. in 2019, that is no longer true. if you only looked at ivy leagues you would be able to move the needle in the workplaces. >> one of my experiences in the 80s and 90s is that i worked for a nonprofit in oakland and there was an incredible pipeline of african-american talent.
every job have multiple people in every once in a while they would hire a decent white person like me. i don't know how or why. but it was like i worked for all these organizations that were like we don't know where to find anybody and it's just so hard. >> its trees. the treated like i don't have the postdoc diversity. you have to be kidding me. in journalism we are trained to do research. we can find where people are. my entire career in journalism out of the newsrooms i was the only african-american in three of them. they couldn't find us. it's exhausting.
you don't write like it's exhausting. you write with a lot of passion and of realism. >> the little bit of optimism you may have detected i don't really see as optimism. let's be real it can be done. what i am not optimistic about his white america's ability to see past fiction of african-americans, the centuries old demeaning images of people in hell that has to do with the lack of diversity, education system, what's on museum walls,
within our literature, we are in a toxic culture with people of color are concerned, and so in a lot of ways these diversity initiatives it's like putting lipstick on a pig. it's like you are trying to address something without addressing the cancer of the culture. it's a band-aid on a gunshot wound that we haven't even begun to deal with because i know i've been on the faculty for going on 26 years. i have not seen curriculum changes the way that one would expect in the 1960s that's what all those college protests were about a, the lack of curriculum that addressed the
history of race in this country that presented a realistic take in america so that white america could understand its complexity and the continuing inequality and the continuing racial injustice. and until that happens, that is why i am optimistic that it can be done unless i am optimistic about the will to do it. >> the other amazing part of this book that is a little bit separate from the industry is really about these three fields, academia, journalism and entertainment and what came across to me so strongly that i e-mail her at like 11:00 a few nights ago. it's like these are fields that are representing the world. and i thought about the b-2
movement where what we saw in the last couple of years is the men who were being accused, some of the men, a lot of the men were in journalism, they were political journalists telling the story of hillary clinton in 2016 and charlie rose and matt lauer. harvey weinstein actually gave money to hillary clinton so it doesn't follow that they are telling us these stories into the same is true. academia, journalism and entertainment has just published this narrative. >> much of my work as you know, because you know the it's concerned with trails because i think that you can draw a straight line from these demeaning portrayals of to the
police pulling someone over then they end up dead, just innocent people. last week someone in their home, people in their homes. so people think of it as it is just a show, just a movie, just a block. no, it has real-life consequences for a whole race of people. we paid attention the last few years but i think we should pay more attention to how the slave trade built major universities
especially the ivy league but not just the ivy league there's starting to be more attention paid and that's great. but when you think about it, i don't mean to sound like a naïve white person but the more i think about it, it's like that is part of what's going on. and you also have all of these academics going back into the 19th and 20th, not just early. but these people embedded in academia that are just about the peddling of white supremacy scholarship. >> they want to look at the past and connect the dots to where we own and it's like moveon. what do we have to do with anything are you kidding me. it has everything to do with it.
when have we disrupted even the narrative, when have university presidents gone before the student faculty body say we have been complicit for centuries the way we've told the story of america, the way we've told the story of african-americans, the way we've told story of native americans, who is doing that? almost no one. it has to start everyone wants a simple solution to this problem. there is no quick fix. they all want drive-by diversity. they want something like a really quick. i did an interview early today on bloomberg. it's not that simple.
the american experience is multilayered, complicated. people want to look at someone like me and say you made it. what is your problem? my problem is that i know many people who look like me don't get the opportunity. people much brighter, better writers, scholars who didn't get to have the kind of opportunity that i've had. so it has not been made. people thought your post race. remember we purchased a post race until like two and a half years ago. probably cnn. the proposed race.
no one is saying that anymore but we never were. so for every achievement, we want to celebrate and say victory, we won the civil rights movement. it's over. we elected barack obama. it's over. no, we had reconstruction than the ku klux klan. we had the civil rights movement and then we had reagan and the backlash to that. we have been in the cycles forever. is it two steps forward and one step back, i go back and forth. how much do you feel like electing barack obama brought us donald trump? >> i feel very strongly that we are living in a backlash to
barack obama just as we did in the backlash to reconstruction seeing those black governors and senators and congressmen. people were not having it. that's where you have the epidemic of clinchin lynching. we keep working on it. >> the beauty of america is the ideas. out of many there are one. we have the words just like we have diversity. we have the word, but it's living up to it where we have always struggled. the optimism is that people continue to struggle. even some of us who don't think in the end we will see that kind
of quality that was articulated by people like martin luther king. like will we get there as a country? but i do know many of us will continue to fight because it is our right to have equality. i mean, so on the front where things -- i should ask u you hae they gotten better about both in your book and also from our experience, entertainment has gotten better. as you know i'm working on this project about 1968 and this week that harry belafonte hosted the tonight show including diane carol who just passed away and was bringing together this amazing and really self-consciously i want the world to see black talent.
we have been here before. succumbed there's always the temptation when we see progress to imagine it as this thing that is going to continue to progress. without vigilance we will roll right back as with every other step we've taken. when they commissioned the report that spoke to the complexity and exclusion and then suddenly the doors opened and you have shows like julia, diane carol, you know, we had a flood of films and then 2015 we
had two years in a row where none of the acting nominees were of color. what i am saying is yes, this past year one of the biggest films as black panther. you would think that would mean black films make money. while, they do. and every study shows that the more diverse a film cast the more money it makes. the more numbers. >> it's incredible, but the problem is we still live in a segregated society. i live in new york, and you live in new york. we go to many journalism events, publishing event, i'm the only
african-american or one of the few book parties. i have a lot of white friends i'm the only in their universe and that's fine, but what happens is the social world of people are replicated in the workplace. who do you recommend, who do your friends know, who gets the good letters? who gets the friendship? many of us are not in those circles. this is not racism that i'm writing about, no, not at all. i'm writing about the ebb and flow of the segregated schools
and the fear and we are supposed to have segregated workplaces into the higher up the chain you go, the more homogenous. so you know, there's so many patterns in american life that would need to shift for the diversity to truly flower. short of that, there are strategies that can work. if for instance in journalism where they can't seem to find people of color even in new york city -- i don't even get it. 21 sports writers.
how could that be. i was trying to be optimistic. but, so these social spheres so short that maybe it won't change and i'm not asking anyone to be my friend. i have plenty of friends. >> she does. >> i'm not saying please be my friend so that maybe you will think about me when there's a job. that's not what i'm suggesting. i'm just saying this is the natural way people get jobs and where we are kind of shut out of bed so short of death changing and that may never change, you can still go outside of your circle. there are professional organizations, there are all kind of networks particularly in journalism that you should be
able to tap into to find talent. somehow we just are not able to do it. it's kind of crazy to me. >> i guess what i was asking, this was in 2015 i think and then the boycott in 2016, do you think that helped, like in the next few years -- >> i think it did. but if you look behind the camera that hasn't should so when you look at the directors committee executives that greenlight films, the studio heads, the producers, writers, 7.8% of writers of the top 200 films last year were of color. 7.8%. so, that has not changed.
that needs to change if we really want to move the needle because again, that same cycle of who are you hiring, what networks are you tapping into come it is a vicious cycle. >> and is it about polling and talent that is entertaining talent, but not the people that write the story were greenlight the story. that's sort of the barrier. >> there are quite a few different barriers. one of the revelations of doing this book, when you look at the purportedly progressive field with the most progressive fields, hollywood, journalism, the arts, architecture, they are the least diverse fields and the most diverse as corporate
america, higher ed. one of the least diverse. what we find if they don't use basic business principles. there is a lot of nepotism. there is no anti-nepotism clauses like many have in corporate america. small shops, they are delete, and what does elit delete look e in america or at least in the american imagination what is elite? so there are many factors that contribute to the lack of diversity and the field that you would think would be the most diverse are the most progressive and trying into bringing the site yes. the more that that is perpetuated the worst situation we are in.
i think a lot of people because they are progressive, they feel like i've got this. i care. you don't need me to hash tag i care. hash tag dot you. [laughter] we can open it up for questions unless you have more. >> i have many more, but -- >> we will take some audience questions. please keep them related to tonight's discussion. >> i know less about the industries that you are discussing tonight, journalism, entertainment and so on, but i do know a lot about -- >> this is. the show was the president of the new york urban league summit. and she headed the -- >> 50-year-old organization to bring minorities businesses into
doing business with fortune 500 companies. and i've posted something on your facebook because i am so glad you are talking about it. there is a complication you have not touched on tonight that may present made on the corporate side and that is diversity as you have discussed tonight mostly you are discussing black-and-white which is the most emotionally fraught and most difficult. in corporate america now what has happened when you discuss diversity, it is a catch all. >> even that, there was one i forget which company but i think it was baffled that if the apple they saiapple isit even a blue-n can be diverse. that's correct because they are trying to get economic diversity, regional diversity.
what happens you say let's have some metrics. they will have some numbers but they are so mushed and dispersed among the groups of people. >> that's why i focus on racial diversity. it's not like it's so mutually exclusive -- we have old gdt q. and all kinds of disabilities. we have everything that is compounded by race and all of the gets eclipsethat gets eclipe have broadened the term to mean -- >> i don't know about journalism or entertainment that i can tell you in corporate america it is a shell game. 80% or more of contracts that go out in the corporations every year are still going to white companies. and everybody else gets a little bit. that percentage has changed for
years. >> over 15 years, case in point is that fortune 500 ceos, the percentage of whites dropped from 85% to eight 82-point something percent because of white women. so, people of color the numbers didn't really change that much. so, you are right and it's why i'm drilling down on racial diversity, because it has been overshadowed by this overtaxed term, and it's part of the problem. thank you. >> are there any other questions? or solutions. answers we take, too. [laughter] >> hello. thank you. nice to see you.
thanks for this great book by the way. one issue i see is diversity like so many other corporate initiatives is really so i load away from the profit centers and corporations so with all the partners are thinking that the billing hours, the thing about diversity and bringing people of color that where it has nothing to do with me and that is just where it goes. >> it's part of the problem. it's marginalized in the corporate structure and most institutional structures and then you have a situation where most of the bigger citie paperse of color and often times are of the diversity. and the executive suite and then they are marginalized. so, it is not helpful.
>> any other questions or answers? okay. one, too. >> i'm not sure my thinking here, but why would people who dictate policy change if they don't have to and number two, power never concedes power [laughter] i understand the struggle -- >> that may be true that it's just not going to change because of who gives up power. i ask my students how many of you have had the privilege you have given up just because it is the right thing to do. some say i took my li wines and gave it to a homeless person. but did you give it up for a year, like what did you really
give up? so, you may be right but then that's pessimistic, too. sometimes things change because they are right but not often. i am probably not all the way there with king i think who said he archived history bends towards justice. i think it bends and then it ends back. i see it as a continuum. i see where we will fight and big chain and we are doing better than many of our ancestors did and we have children and we can do everything we can to make them better. we are going to be fighting until the day that we are dead
and then our kids will have to continue to fight. the demographics of this country are upon us by 2045 people of color will be the majority. that is what this whole immigration hysteria is all about. that's what the wall and kids in cages, the voter suppression, i mean it on. we are in that kind of struggle over demographics. so, the demographics are going to determine some, not all because i'm often reminded of south africa which was like 90% black. 10% of the people have the power. the demographics will not necessarily determine destiny.
i know carla hayden is the first african-american librarian of congress. do you see that just as -- >> i look at the numbers. i do a deep dive on the fields you indicated, higher ed hollywood in corporate america. i can't look at everything. forget everything. people of color are acutely underrepresented in every influential field. every single one. he may be overrepresented as
caretakers and museums as security guards. no, this is a systemic issue. it's not relegated to just one or three fields. >> is there another question over here. >> i just want to know your opinion about recently seeing so much about [inaudible] basically a couple of them -- i cannot understand looking at the structure of the country and what is in the society and now you include by answering everybody will be looked at by this. >> in a few hours we are going to undo the damage that has been done for centuries around race. you check a box and that is what
is considered drive-by diversity. which is kind of fix it overnight or in a few hours. i looked at many of the studies on diversity training and the most comprehensive studies that test say that it made negligible difference in a study by a professor at harvard found that it actually makes things worse particularly if you require it. it causes a lot of resentment, and the numbers of people of color usually drop after you go through that because there is so much tension and presentment around it so it isn't the way to go but that is what most companies do. that is what they are spending
billions on, doing things like that. >> we have time for one more question. >> talking about being hopeful, in terms of the entertainment industry, do you think that tyler perry and his new enterprise which will bring so many people of color into the various aspects of people of color owning their own is always helpful to -- there is a lot of activity around people opening up their own studios and of course that will help. does that help the systemic
problem that we are talking about, probably not. but it will employ some people and then they will be trained and hopefully able to go into other studios. i am not convinced the pipeline was a further problem anyway. i don't think that is going to change the systemic issues that i'm talking about. >> david of everyone. >> thank you. [applause] that was an incredible discussion and we are so lucky to have you guys here tonight. we are going to move on to my favorite portion of the night, the book signing. we have a lot of copies over on the table if you haven't picked one up, you are welcome to grab one and hit the registers before you leave. we also have copies of the other folks and we will have you line up down past christian living and make your line towards pets.
thank you for coming out tonight. [inaudible conversations] you are watching booktv on bookn c-span2. television for serious readers. freedom fest libertarian conference in las vegas talking with authors and now joining us is the former "new york times" reporter whose most recent book is wild bill the true story of the american frontiers first gunfighter. what do we know about wild bill and what should weno