Sunday, August 4, 2013

Diversity: The New Racism

My wife and I were walking around a public area tonight in a very "diverse" area. There was a fountain in the middle. There were children all around the fountain blocking the fountain spouts. I specifically remember two black boys, three Mexican girls, an Asian boy, and one white boy. Each of them was at a different spout doing exactly the same thing.  They were excitedly blocking the water while it sprayed them.  Each enjoying while they play in the water. And I'll bet that seven parents were somewhere close wanting exactly the same thing for their children. Clothing, opportunity, enjoyment, prosperity, happiness, love, peace, joy, safety, friendship, education, employment. Why? Because we're all the same.  I don't care where you're from, what you've done, where you live, what color you are, what sex you are, what sex you love, we all want the same things in life

In the book, "It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy," Captain D. Michael Abrashoff puts it in the plainest terms. "Diversity training had merely made people more aware of their differences.  Our unity training focuses on common interests and positive reasons to value others instead of a top-down prohibition against devaluing them (emphasis in original). Captain Abrashoff is on to something here. If we constantly focus on diversity training, and increasing our diversity hires, what are we saying to our culture? Look at how different we all are, how much of a chasm lies between us, and you had better live with it. What a stupid idea.

So why do we pretend that celebrating everyone's cultural differences will make us appreciate one another? Because it is racist to say otherwise.  Little do we know that this is what keeps racism alive.

Let's look at this in simple, simple terms. Two people are meeting each other for the first time.  Picture this however you want. Two black men. Two Spanish men. Two Chinese women. One white man and one Iraqi man. Who cares? When these two people are learning about each other, what brings them together in friendship? SIMILARITIES. That they both have 4 year old girls that are just starting to play with makeup.  That they both played soccer at the university.  That their husbands don't want to change diapers.  That they both love the Green Bay Packers.

Rarely do two people start talking to each other and find friendship when one likes the Packers, the other likes the Cowboys, one has six children and is religious, the other single and atheistic. These differences may surface at some point later, when both have become friends. And once the two friends can understand each other and tolerate, and even learn from their differences. But commonalities bind us together. Not differences.

Conversely, what does diversity in action look like? When I was in law school, I, a white male, with a white girlfriend, went to a predominately black church in a predominately black area: Norfolk, Virginia.  The pastor, who is like our second dad and my mentor, told us to apply for the school's Corporate Partnership scholarship.  He told us that it would pay for 25% of our tuition.  So we applied. And we received the scholarship.  For one semester . . .

Then my law school dean found out about it.  He found out that two white kids were applying for the "black church" scholarship.  So what happened?  Mr. Dean called a meeting with the financial aid director, my white girlfriend, and my white-self.  He told us that this scholarship wasn't meant for us [white folk].  That we weren't the intended recipients.  That the school was trying to get "diverse" students to apply.  Never mind that we abided by the scholarship requirements to the letter . . .

Well, now the scholarship language has been changed by the school to ensure that "the intended recipients" receive the scholarship. All in the name of diversity. Never mind that a couple white kids were happily attending and volunteering in an almost all black church of 8,000 members. And are now members. And still support the church from our Midwestern home.

Diversity. It's degrading. It's disgusting. And it's destroying our world.

Unity? That's something I can get on board with.

When we can finally look at the complete opposite of what we are and understand we want the same things, then we can sympathize with them, love them, and help them. If we continue to see others as what we aren't, racism will live. And folks like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will still have demented purpose.

If we as humans are serious about eradicating racism, we must, MUST focus on the similarities we have as humans.  We must realize we're all in this together seeking the same things. Searching for the same ultimate end. Only then can we become one. Only then can we live in utopia.

1 comment:

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