I won't claim to be an expert on what transpired with Silicon Valley Bank. I suspect the causes of the failure were complex and multifaceted, and hopefully a post-mortem can help point us to areas of insufficient oversight or regulatory gaps that can be filled to forestall such events in the future.
Of course, we can skip all that hard work if you can go to the old chestnut of "it's minorities fault". And low and behold, enter Andy Kessler in the Wall Street Journal!
“In its proxy statement, SVB notes that besides 91% of their board being independent and 45% women, they also have "1 Black," "1 LGBTQ+" and "2 Veterans." I’m not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess, but the company may have been distracted by diversity demands.”
What's striking about this -- okay, there's a lot that's striking about this. But one thing that stands out in particular is that Kessler is literally flagging as his problem that SVB had one Black person on its board. One! (And one queer director! And two veterans!). One drop of Black
blood directorship suffices to lead SVB into ruin.
In his "Chronicle of the DeVine Gift" essay, Derrick Bell posited that even in cases of incontestable candidate quality, predominantly White institutions would start getting skittish about hiring more Black candidates past a certain threshold. Bell is rarely accused of being insufficiently cynical, but even he didn't argue that this threshold would be "one" (for what it's worth, in the story it was the seventh extraordinarily well-qualified Black candidate under consideration at a historically White law school that set off alarms).
But such is the time we live in. As Ron DeSantis has made abundantly clear, the working conservative definition of "wokeness" is "any non-White or non-straight person present in any capacity." Hence why the mere presence of a gay penguins suffices to ban a book in the Sunshine State. And hence why the Wall Street Journal can see a single, solitary Black director at SVB and conclude "aha -- well there's your problem."
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