This guest post on Racialicious (written by Hugo Najera) about what real diversity looks like is an incredibly interesting conversation-starter.
Such comments assume that diversity is measured only by the number of Blacks, women, and Latinos in the room, without considering the structural reframing, process, and competencies that can make the term usable. “Diversity” as shorthand for a tally of physical bodies and archetypes is one of the major issues this term faces for validity and understanding. This incomplete definition makes whites feel apart and not responsible, targeted groups into tokens who feel responsible for carrying the burden in get-togethers, and ultimately diminishing collective knowledge. And for those who accompany the word with action, process, and competency, it annoys us when others in the choir don’t sing with the entire range of notes true diversity asks for.
The worst crime of limiting diversity to stockpiling identities is that it leaves black, white, whomever, oblivious and shackled from taking any social action. I have participated in too many dialogue sessions, hate crime debriefings, class discussions, and lunchroom chit chat where targeted groups have vent sessions, whites stay quiet, and everyone feels good for being in conversation, yet empty that nothing has been done. Everything returns to the status quo of disproportionate favoritism, neglect, anger, and struggle. Why is it that these feelings and situations do not convert well into action? Why do we like the notion of diversity so much, yet we still struggle in using it in the classroom? Why does a room full of positive change agents ask the question “What can I do?” The reason is because action steps, knowledge, competencies, and processes have been severed, or never included, in “diversity.”
I hope that the comments section for the post picks up soon because I’d love to hear what other people think!