Mark, Elon, DEI, & Michigan football

Walter M. Kimbrough
3 min readJan 10, 2024

Like you I’ve noticed the recent chatter on Twitter (I still call it that), where Elon Musk debates Mark Cuban about DEI. Cuban really does a good job explaining what diversity is and why it is valuable. He then goes on to give a good example, saying:

“Based on the feedback on to my DEI posts, I decided to look for a high profile organization where the person in charge of hiring was publicly against DEI and see if it was a template for hiring success. Below is the list of hires. Let me first add, I’m not trying to determine whether any man on this list was qualified or not. There are several I think are very talented.

I’m just presenting the hires and I’ll let you come to your own conclusion whether the lack of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion helped or hurt.”

You can see his list here:

Musk tries to counter saying his basketball team, the Dallas Mavericks, has no diversity. He should add an Asian or White woman to prove he’s not racist or sexist.

So many folks have tried to use athletics to argue against diversity. They show the teams have the best people playing, even if the makeup is not diverse.

The University of Michigan has over 50,000 students. 4% of them are Black, but 53% of the football team is Black. Watching the game you easily see most of the skill players were Black, and at all times Black men were the majority of the players on the field. The University of Washington (3% Black, 50,000 students) was very similar.

But there is a big difference in how people get jobs in a Presidential administration, and how people get positions on a sports team.

In 2006, when I was president of Philander Smith College, we co-sponsored a lecture with the Clinton School of Public Service featuring Rev. Jesse Jackson. Rev. Jackson made one of the best analogies to fit this situation. His thesis was this:

“Because whenever the playfield is even, and the rules are public, and the goals are clear, we can all excel.”

I don’t know how Sean Spicer got his job. Or Jeff Sessions. Or Michael Flynn. I know how Jared and Ivanka got theirs and it wasn’t based on merit. For most of the folks in the last administration they aren’t there because of merit. But there is no way to measure because the rules for hiring were not public.

If you can’t complete passes, make a tackle, or kick a field goal, you’re not playing. It’s very objective with measurable goals. I have no idea what Jared did beyond setting himself up to get $2 billion after leaving the White House.

Here is a clip of his speech. We need DEI to make sure we have level playfields, public rules, and clear goals.

The Prez



Walter M. Kimbrough

12th president of Philander Smith College. 7th president of Dillard University. Now in an Intermission.