Last night's episode of ABC's Abbott Elementary mocked the virtue-signaling diversity that has replaced meritocracy in America.
In the episode, "Educator of the Year," the Philadelphia Board of Education awards "Educator of the Year" to Gregory (Tyler James Williams), a new and inexperienced teacher at Abbott Elementary.
Upon hearing that he has been selected for the award, Gregory is confused. He only recently became a full-time teacher and has not yet done anything of note.
Ava (Janelle James), Abbott's incompetent principal, and Barbara (Sheryl Lee Ralph), an experienced teacher at the school, explain to him that the award is really about "optics." He is one of the few black, male teachers in the district:
Gregory: This is weird, right? How can I be Educator of the Year if I haven't even been a full-time teacher for the whole year?
Barbara: Well, typically, the award has been about optics. And by awarding you, it might encourage other young black men to become elementary school teachers. Besides, it makes them look good.
Ava: It's not merit-based at all, but who wants to live in a meritocracy?
The district decides that a white female teacher, Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter), should give Gregory the award at the ceremony. Melissa is a respected professional who teaches two large grades in one classroom. She is a tough woman with working class roots who recognizes that she is being used by the board.
The Chief Education Officer for the Philadelphia Board of Education, Elizabeth Washington (June Diane Raphael), explains to Melissa why she must do the introduction:
Melissa: Okay, why me?
Washington: So, we like to have a diverse, kaleidoscopic POV to bridge the gap between culture and education.
Ava: What this white lady is saying is they want a white lady to do it because y'all been acting up this year.
Washington: Yes! Thank you so much. That's right.
Ava: Trust me. You don't want to get on the district's bad side.
Ava's reference to white ladies "acting up" dovetails with various media attempts to paint white women as villains.
Gregory does not want to accept the award, but Melissa convinces him to take it. She argues that he may someday grow into a teacher deserving of the award, but by that point the district won't honor him.
As a final insult to the teachers and staff of the school, the district awards Aide of the Year to a teacher's aide named Ashley (Keyla Monterroso Mejia).
Ashley is a nincompoop who causes chaos wherever she goes and is tossed from school to school to try to get rid of her. She is given the award because she is Hispanic:
Ashley: Finally, I'd like to send a shout-out to all the schools I haven't had to soft quit this year. [Chuckles} Not me being so good at my job they always tell me I don't have to come back. [ Chuckles ] Thank you.
Washington: Wow...So beautiful to see a latinx aide share her why with us. Now, please welcome to the stage Italian-American teacher Melissa Schemmenti, who will introduce our marquee award, Educator of the Year.
Jacob: Okay, even for me, this seems incredibly performative.
Jacob is Abbott Elementary's die-hard woke "progressive." The ceremony is too much even for him.
Gregory gives a humble speech that honors all the teachers of Abbott Elementary. Washington hugs him and thanks him, emphasizing for the audience that he is "a black man":
Washington: Thank you. And please, please give a hand to this wonderful black man.
The episode highlighted the absurdity of diversity/inclusion obsessions. It amusingly captured how identity politics hijacks our institutions, leaving all but the most delusional ideologue embarrassed by its insanity.