July 5, 2012

Non-Diversity before Diversity

Apollo 11 Launch Control, July 1969
One goal of my Diversity Before Diversity series on popular American celebrities of the past who were considered non-white then or would be today (e.g., Jim Thorpe or Pancho Gonzales) or (as in the case of pugilistic superstar John L. Sullivan) have been retconned by today's mythology into supposedly having been viewed as nonwhite back then is to point out that the color line discrimination against blacks was both quantitatively and qualitatively more severe than the discrimination suffered by other groups. 

On the other hand, it's also worth pointing out how many great achievements in American (and human) history were accomplished by what would now be considered shamefully non-diverse collections of white men. Here, for instance, is a picture of the Launch Control team that controlled Apollo 11's Saturn V rocket to the Moon 43 years ago. (Click here for a slow-loading large version.)

I can see a young woman in the third row, and the man standing behind her might have dark skin. (Looking at the larger version, I'd lean away from him being nonwhite, but I spotted two more women, far right side of fourth row, one with a beehive hairdo.)

Yeah, but, still ...

However, some organizations are still considered by the federal government to be so crucial that they are apparently exempt from the diversity imperative, such as this one.

42 comments:

Inscrutoroku Japamoto said...

I'm sure a half-dozen people will beat me to this, a film not by Ken Burns:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6xJzAYYrX8

"It was a different time..."

albert magnus said...

I'm pretty sure that's Launch Control at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Its currently labelled Mission control at Houston). My father sat under the bank of televisions in the back left of the picture. He is half-Irish/half-Croatian Roman Catholic if you are counting.

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks, albert magnus, will fix it.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I hope you profile the Old Negro Space Program:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6xJzAYYrX8

Anonymous said...

they got to the moon - total computing power probably less than a good home computer today...
now, as we all know NASA's #1 mission is to make muslims feel good about their contributions to math and science..

and if we wanted to go the moon today NO WAY would it happen- ex 'nazi' rocket scientists? .....the ADL would be huffing and puffing.

milam command said...

Here it is, embiggened:

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/a11/ap11-KSC-69P-631HR.jpg

Mr. Anon said...

"albert magnus said...

I'm pretty sure that's Launch Control at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Its currently labelled Mission control at Houston)."

Launch control is still launch control and is still at the Cape. Mission control is still called mission control (as it was back then), and is (and was) in Houston.

Olave d'Estienne said...

I don't think anyone is going to notice that that Ken Burns parody is a parody.

Mr. Anon said...

"Olave d'Estienne said...

I don't think anyone is going to notice that that Ken Burns parody is a parody."

Ken Burns has become a parody of himself, has he not?

Power Child said...

Judging by this photo, Ron Howard's depiction of Mission Control in Apollo 13 was entirely accurate. Huh. Why hasn't Howard been blackballed and given the Mel Gibson treatment?

Charlesz Martel said...

I remember watching a TV special in 1978 or so, called "Junkyard One". It was about a group of retired/laid off NASA engineers budding a spacecraft out of surplus junk. Andy Griffith was the lead, and there was s black man as co -lead- it may have had the obligatory female engineer as well, I 'm not sure.
I vividly remember my liberal father, who had integrated lunch counters in 1948 in Columbia, South Carolina, saying out loud to the TV:"Bullshit! The space program was comprised of white men - why are they trying to rewrite history?"
We didn't realize we were only at the beginning of the insanity that came to devour America.

On another note, regarding non- white cultural figures, remember Doc Savage, the prototype for Superman? Half White, Half Mayan. The same author wrote "The Avenger", who had, among others, a black couple among his operatives. Even the original Tom Swift had a faithful black servant with a mule (this was turn of the century). Remember Tonto? Daniel Boone's Indian sidekick from the TV show? There wasn't a dearth of minority participation in popular culture back then. What there wasn't was the current fantasy of fantasmagorical minority achievements.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

Steve, maybe I've missed it, but have you included any Asians in your ongoing series? I'd argue that Asians would be a clear second behind blacks in terms of the discrimination faced. Because at the end of the day, Asians, like blacks (and unlike Hispanics) are a distinctly different race from Whites.

Truth said...

Do you really believe we went to the moon?

I never gave it much thought until I saw the capsule displayed at the Smithsonian.

To say that my '67 Mustang was more impressive would be soft peddling it.

Anonymous said...

Indians are very fond of bragging that 50% (or 30% or 60% or whatever) of 'Nasa scientists' are Indians.

Steve Sailer said...

Any nominations for Asians? I've had one so far for an important behind the scenes figure in Hollywood history, but I'm not sure if behind the scenes figures prove much.

dearieme said...

NASA? But how many black German ex-Nazis are there?

Anonymous said...

Indians are very fond of bragging that 50% (or 30% or 60% or whatever) of 'Nasa scientists' are Indians.

I first started hearing that at some point in the 80s.

Unanimous said...

America will never return to the moon. You can mark that one in stone.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather was some kind of tech at NASA. He'd been in the Army Air Corps in WWII. He was a first-generation Mexican, had worked in the fields as a kid. More Ricky Ricardo than Mayan, but still obviously Hispanic. So, even in all-white organizations like this, it's not like the "minorities" were kept out. They just didn't necessarily rise to the top.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

Steve, I did just think of an Asian that you did mention before - Roman Gabriel. Of course, he was only half, but it does make me wonder if there were any other half-Asians out there that made an impact during the "diversity before diversity" era.

Anonymous said...

Truth:"Do you really believe we went to the moon?"

Yes.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Dearieme wins...

Steiner said...

It's amazing what a room full of mostly Northern European men can achieve. For a more recent example, have a look at the scientists connected with the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN.

Anonymous said...

James Wong Howe?

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

Do you really believe we went to the moon?"

But, of course. Moon Hoax Believer - chalk this up with all the other idiot beliefs "Truth" has professed over the years. Of course the astronauts went to the moon, "Truth" - they were conveyed in water-powered cars.

"I never gave it much thought...."

That applies to so many things whereof you speak.

".....until I saw the capsule displayed at the Smithsonian."

Here's a hint, genius: When they started out from Earth, it was more than a tiny little capsule - in fact it started out as a six and a half million pound rocket.

"To say that my '67 Mustang was more impressive would be soft peddling it."

The same explanation offered by every dimwit: I - I personally - can not understand how it could possibly work, therefore it must not be so. What those like "Truth" fail to understand is that - not being very bright - there are so many things they don't understand. "Truth" could no more build a '67 Mustang than he could build an Apollo capsule. Is the Ford Mustang therefore a hoax? Was that all a big conspiracy too?

Tom Piatak said...

The picture reminds me of a friend's quip that the Apollo program was diverse, because it consisted of white guys with crew cuts and white guys without crew cuts.

Truth said...

"Here's a hint, genius: When they started out from Earth, it was more than a tiny little capsule - in fact it started out as a six and a half million pound rocket."

Wow, first time I've heard that, thanks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo5w0pm24ic

"I personally - can not understand how it could possibly work, therefore it must not be so."

No, Grasshopper, that's not true; like you for instance: I don't understand how you generate enough brain power to operate a keyboard, but I am well open to the theory that you started out as a single-celled organism,that underwent rapid mutation.

Ted's Head said...

So a very few elite Whites (mainly sellouts) get to stay in little all-White enclaves. What does that have to do with the rest of us?

Anonymous said...

I'd argue that Asians would be a clear second behind blacks in terms of the discrimination faced.

Asians discriminate against others more than others discriminate against Asians.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was a white man?

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

""Here's a hint, genius: When they started out from Earth, it was more than a tiny little capsule - in fact it started out as a six and a half million pound rocket.""

Wow, first time I've heard that, thanks."

I don't know if that is an honest admission or was meant to be sarcastic. Given the breadth and depth of your ignorance, the former is quite plausible.

DaveinHackensack said...

"But how many black German ex-Nazis are there?"

Thomas Pynchon had black German Nazi rocketeers in Gravity's Rainbow -- Hereros from German South-West Africa. Some of the stranger stuff in Pynchon's novel was based on fact, but I have no idea if that was.

"It's amazing what a room full of mostly Northern European men can achieve. For a more recent example, have a look at the scientists connected with the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN."

Take a look at the Southern European woman coordinating it: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/03/business/fabiola-gianotti-leading-women/?hpt=hp_c1

Truth said...

No, not sarcasm at all, Sport; I figured that little 9' long thing flew off the launching pad by itself.

Anonymous said...

The Andy Griffith show was called "Salvage One" and IIRC had no blacks in it.

Anonymous said...

The culture and history of NASA as an organization (as opposed to the history of the space program) has been studied with full NASA support, in particular to try to find out why it was once so successful and has now become nearly the examplar of a hidebound government DMV-like agency.

One of the best resulting works is "Inside NASA: High Technology and Organizational Change in the U.S. Space Program", by Howard E. McCurdy, 1994.

Been awhile since I looked at it, but I believe McCurdy has accurate statistics on the matter and makes the point that the largest single group among NASA's engineers and technological workforce, by president Johnson's design, was recruited from small no-name local engineering schools in the South. No NASA center was north of the Mason-Dixon line. NASA became part of Johnson's plan for re-industrializing the South (one thing he did that largely worked). Surprisingly, perhaps the second largest group among NASA's technical workforce was from Canada, as the US space program followed closely after Canada decided to finally shut down its large WWII aerospace industry. (British aviation companies had expanded rapidly in Canada during the war and thus had large surplus staff after the war).

There is really little need to study the issue, though. NASA was one of the first prime targets of AA and suffered greatly from the demise of the truly competitive civil service, in particular the demise of the PACE exam (Professional and Administrative Careers Examination).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lu%C3%A9vano_v._Campbell

"The Luévano consent decree is the 1981 agreement that settled the lawsuit and called for the elimination of PACE and required replacing it with alternative examinations..."

"...OPM developed the Administrative Careers with America
examination."


The resulting system is more like those fire departments that have to keep devising/giving tests until the right racial quotas are achieved...

Odd as how the US Civil Service went away from test-based meritocracy at about the same time as university admittance became more test-score based... Does make you wonder. Computer based history programs that go back and correlate a lot of this stuff using data mining techniques are going to be very interesting.

Peter said...

t's amazing what a room full of mostly Northern European men can achieve. For a more recent example, have a look at the scientists connected with the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN.

More women than in the Apollo picture. The only nonwhite I can spot is an Indian-looking man sitting near the front, wearing an orange shirt. Of course, this is in Europe, which is less racially diverse than the United States.

Going back to the Apollo picture, the most intriguing person is a man standing in the second row, a bit right of center, with his hands on his hips. He's intriguing not because he's a minority, he isn't, but because he's casually dressed in a sea of neckties. A brilliant but quirky scientist, so secure in his status that he can ignore the dress code? Or a repairman summoned to deal with an equipment problem?

Anonymous said...

"Going back to the Apollo picture, the most intriguing person is a man standing in the second row, a bit right of center, with his hands on his hips. He's intriguing not because he's a minority, he isn't, but because he's casually dressed in a sea of neckties. A brilliant but quirky scientist, so secure in his status that he can ignore the dress code? Or a repairman summoned to deal with an equipment problem?"

A quick image google search finds that this casually dressed man in what looks like t-shirt and blue jeans is Deke Slayton. One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, grounded due to worries about his heart, became NASA's director of flight crew operations (unofficially, "chief astronaut"), among other things responsible for selecting all the crews, including selecting Armstrong to be first on the moon. Finally got into space as pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz linkup in orbit.

What does he have stuck in his pants or wearing on his belt buckle? (No risque jokes, please.) I image that might be a security badge or some sort of pocket protector, since he doesn't have a shirt pocket...

The description of this image at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/images11.html#Launch says:

KSC-69P-631

"Launch control team member Jerry Croley writes, "We were listening to Vice President Spiro Agnew, who gave us a pep talk about an hour after the launch. I was stationed at console BE-17 with call sign C2HU. This was the SII LH Propellant Tanking Computer System, the controller that kept the LH level at the correct Flight Mass specified for the mission. It simply monitored the level through a capacitance probe and added LH as the LH evaporated following the filling by the Propellants section and through pressurization, after which there was no boil off. Our section was an Elec section working alongside the Mechs who managed the tank farms and overall propellant handling. (In the photo), I am standing ( 128k on the edge of the A level in front of the A level consoles (the side away from the window). Unfortunately, I cannot recognize any of the people from row BE." Deke Slayton, in a dark shirt with no tie, is six from the right in the second row, and Alan Shepard is next but one to Slayton's right. Kipp Teague notes that the clocks on the wall show Local (time) 10:25, Projected Launch (time) 9:32, and Accumulated Hold 12:00 (meaning 'none'. "As evidenced by the clocks, the photo was taken 53 minutes after liftoff." 16 July 1969. Scan by Kipp Teague."

Anonymous said...

Here's a color pic of Deke Slayton having pre-launch breakfast with the Apollo 11 crew, it looks like he's probably wearing the same t-shirt as in the launch control room photo.

Note the t-shirt is bright orange-red. Most in the room can probably spot him instantly:

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/ap11-KSC-69PC-368.jpg

"KSC-69PC-368

Bill Anders, Armstrong, Collins, Aldrin, and Slayton (left to right) during the pre-launch breakfast. Deke is discussing a map which might show the location of recovery ships or of communications sites to be used during the early phases of the missions. 16 July 1969. Scan by Kipp Teague."


There's also a black-and-white pic, the shirt looks the same as in the launch pic.

So, he's one of those guys that keeps a pen clipped inside his t-shirt collar... Steve, how about an article on the significance of pocket protectors sometime? Not that I know of any significance, but people often seem to mention them in a somewhat sneering way. What's the deal? I'm not sure I've ever seen a photo with more pocket protectors than in that launch room.

Anonymous said...

Visiting NASA at Moffett Field near San Francisco in the sixties with my father, one thing I remember was the fact that there were a LOT of southerners there. I remember that Georgia Tech (hardly a no name school) was strongly represented.

Anonymous said...

"Visiting NASA at Moffett Field near San Francisco in the sixties with my father, one thing I remember was the fact that there were a LOT of southerners there. I remember that Georgia Tech (hardly a no name school) was strongly represented."

I did not intend to slight southern schools, my apologies if that's how it came across. I was trying to reflect a more subtle point that I think McCurdy made, if I recall right, which was that at the time (1950's and early 60's) engineering graduates from southern schools, often small ugrad only schools, were demonstrably capable of meeting the grand challenge of landing man on the moon. (No need to only look at the top Ivies, for instance, which today sometimes seems assumed for such an effort.)

This must be balanced of course by noting that many of these engineering students were older more mature students on the GI Bill who had been in the military in some technical capacity during WWII, during which time they had become competent technicians and were subject to military technical training, which was often excellent.

And also this was before ubiquitous relocation (interstates, "automotive society") made regional distribution of talent likely more uneven.

(Not only Georgia Tech, but Steve's own Rice, Texas A&M, U.Texas, U.Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Baylor, Duke, ..., and many more!)

Maria O'Meara said...

The unidentified woman in the dark dress in the third row is Joann Morgan. She was the only woman in mission control that day. She's in wikipedia and some nice quotes from her are here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/moon-mars/4317732

Maria O'Meara said...

The woman in the photo is Joann Morgan. She was the only woman in mission control that day. Nice quotes from her here.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/moon-mars/4317732