Letter to the editor: Racial Equity Consciousness Institute criticized

Dear Editor:

On Sept. 15, 2021, Pitt Diversity mass-emailed an announcement entitled “Racial Equity Consciousness: A Framework to Foster Antiracist Practices and Cultures Across Communities,” stating that “The Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI), in coalition with institutional and community partners, is committed to fostering an antiracist culture at the University of Pittsburgh and beyond to address systemic racism and advance racial equity.” It further expounds on  what “antiracism” is and how it should be implemented at Pitt via the Racial Equity Consciousness Institute.

The University, an institution of science and reason, is supposed to eschew baseless statements even if they take over public discourse. I have not seen, however, nor does the announcement provide, any evidence that racism, “focally anti-Blackness,” is “systemic” in this country or at Pitt, while “collective cultivation of an institutional culture,” apart from ensuing from a  questionable premise, is tautological. So are the definitions proffered by the author prominently quoted on the “Diversity” website, Ibram X. Kendi, which he is self-deluded to call “lucid” in his lamentable book. 

His demagoguery is no different than what the Soviet propaganda taught about the West and capitalism. The announcement’s call for an open-ended “ongoing, corrective action […] to foster fair and desirable societal outcomes,” rather than for fostering equal opportunities and meritocracy, is a rehashing of Marxism and socialism. Historically, similar ideas have led to suffering — first and foremost of those who were allegedly supposed to benefit from them. The only true beneficiaries were the ideologues. It is doubtful that race-based social engineering is any better than class- or any other group-based, with which I am well-familiar thanks to my Soviet past. It is regrettable that I am now being increasingly reminded of that by the neo-Marxian agitprop coming from the OEDI. 

Michael Vanyukov
Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Psychiatry, and Human Genetics