The Foreign Service Journal, November 2020

12 NOVEMBER 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL year (imagine the grandfather from “My Big Fat GreekWedding” explaining all Greek inventions), knowing the story of Ralph Bunche reaches the level of obsession. As an undergraduate, I even used my peacekeeping research project to wiggle my narrow behind into Ralph Bunche’s famous brown leather “thinking chair” at the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations. (Salman Ahmad did not find this to be professional, but being dignified was not this fanboy’s goal.) Move aside State Department librar- ians, Brian Urquhart and James Dandridge II! Despite your excellent written works on Bunche, I am the (unpublished) #1 fan! I believe that Ralph Bunche was an “ethical consequentialist”—one who prized the quiet achievement of racial justice results over the expression of his own personal feelings. He negotiated with racists all the time. In his first mission, Bunche was charged with the liquidation of colonial- ism (and you thought your first tour was bad). Like the original utilitarian, Niccolo Machiavelli, Bunche was willing to say whatever it took to achieve his decoloni- zation objective. Bunche even deployed flattery to get colonizers to come along quietly as he removed the jewels from their imperial crowns. He said: “It cannot be questioned that the colonial regimes of the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands have brought much progress to the dependent people of the Far East. …The issue, then, resolves itself into questions of timing, acceleration of progress toward self-rule, and the mechanisms that may be devised to speed up the process of LETTERS-PLUS T he September FSJ ’ s dual focus on race inside the Department of State and the 75th anniversary of the United Nations is poetic. First, Julie Chung’s and Patrice John- son’s reflections were so poignant. I did not know that other Pickering Fellows felt a sense of (manageable) loss, too. To have an achievement of merit (achieved for me at the tender age of 19) be so derided by fellow policy nerds whom I genuinely like as individuals was painful, but we worked through it. What I now know about tacit social sup- port is that it helps psychologically to know you are not alone. I would still be an FSO today, had I only known that others saw what I was seeing. At the very least, I have rejoined as a payingmember of AFSA and urge others who departed to do the same. Second, if you are a Black Detroiter raised in the 1990s, and you see Ralph Bunche’s contributions to the United Nations highlighted—you are intrigued. Detroiters claim Bunche. If you are a kid reading Foreign Affairs and The Economist in the seventh grade and winning citywide Black History Facts competitions in the first quarter of each Stay Focused on the Consequences BY VICTOR MARSH RESPONSES TO SEPTEMBER FOCUS ON ADDRESSING RACE, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION Victor Marsh is a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado–Boulder’s organiza- tional leadership and information analytics program (May 2021, expected). At State, Marsh was in the Foreign Service from 2007 to 2015 as an economic reporting officer. His languages are Turkish, taxicab Cantonese and Mandarin. He served in Hong Kong, the Operations Center, on the Haiti desk and as political section chief in Cyprus. colonial liquidation and to discharge the obligation of accountability.” What drives consequentialism is probably a need to manage one’s power dependence. The State Department’s minorities therefore want to see results, not intentions. Managing objective power gaps in his volatile neighborhood was the task that a besieged Machiavelli had before him in Florence and what Bunche faced in the work of decolonization. In the United States, Bunche and his people were (are?) besieged, too. We are surrounded by people who are bumbling in their execution of anti-racist work. Here are some examples of what feels good (but may not be so good): • Mandatory diversity training helps send the signal that “we mean business” to some audiences. But it correlates, counterintuitively, with a sharp reduction of Black women, Asian men and women in management across the U.S. economy (see . • A 14th precept, for “diversity,” would feel virtuous. Yet this kind of “diversity evaluation” correlates, counterintuitively, with significant declines in white women reaching leadership ranks (see rage-against-the-iron-cage). • Listening to employee affinity groups engaging in free labor to fix State feels sat- isfying. But more free labor could mean minorities’ promotion rates will decrease. • The Qualifications Evaluations Panel feels virtuous and meritocratic, to look at people’s résumés rather than rely on tests. • The current FSOA (oral assessment) feels virtuous andmeritocratic, as it tests our ability to interact inside an American embassy office setting.