Diversity training on college campuses and the potential addition of “diversity” as MU’s fifth core value were among the topics addressed by Reginald Jones on Wednesday night in Hulston Hall.
Jones, an African-American Libertarian, spoke to a crowd of about 50 students about how the growing movement toward diversity on college campuses has, in his opinion, “been a disaster” for blacks.
“The motivating factor behind the diversity movement is to take away from blacks our inherit ability to make a way out of no way,” Jones said.
Jones said that demands for diversity send a message to blacks that they are at a disadvantage because they mold an identity based on “victimhood,” which prevents them from excelling in academic areas.
“What’s more harmful than what other folks think about black people is what we think about ourselves,” he said.
Instead of adding “diversity” to MU’s core values, Jones said, the focus should be on excellence and the equal treatment of students.
“If you reach for excellence, you will find diversity,” Jones said. “Isn’t it funny how when excellence is the standard, blacks, like cream, rise to the top?”
Jones drew laughter from the audience when he described the racial stereotypes and designations attributed to various professions.
He said young blacks are taught to think they can only excel in certain areas, such as sports and music.
“The beauty of America is that where you are born doesn’t have to be where you end up,” Jones said.
At a question and answer session after the lecture, a student voiced concern that lack of diversity on college campuses and in other areas of life would perpetuate racial stereotypes and ignorance. Jones responded by saying that the media can have more influence on people’s perceptions than daily interaction can.
Before getting on the lecture circuit, Jones spent about 20 years in the entertainment industry as a musician, an entrepreneur and later as a hip-hop producer. Jones is also involved in philanthropic activities.