Sunday, February 6, 2011

Living in Diversity

For some, diversity is a bad word, used to fake others out when they want to appeal to more people but in their heart they don't really want change.  This false front often happens because people know that using the word diversity is popular and can often get you notice for being a "good guy."
If you are sincere about wanting diversity, then you will find yourself in an enriched life, you will learn about many new things, and make many new friends.
At our university we have real diversity most of the time.  Our students come from almost 100 different countries.  We have students from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and the Far East.  We even have a few regular white Americans (along with a significant number of U.S. Latinos and not enough African Americans).  This diversity is hailed as wonderful.  And it is.  I teach in the World Cultures & Literatures Program and learn more about the world every day... from the students and from our readings.
Yet, I must mention one thing.  It has been my experience that in the U.S. the concept of diversity doesn't often mean U.S. born minorities.  A person of German descendent, born in Argentina counts for a U.S. Latino, even though they have no experience with discrimination based on their skin color.  Africans from Nigeria count for U.S. Blacks that are descendent from plantation slaves.  
The numbers are clear.  We only have one African American scientist faculty member on the whole campus -  even though we have a number of African born faculty.  This is really shameful.  Why is this happening?  Partly because African American scientists are in extremely high demand.  Our university often can't or won't pay the high enough salary and provide a good enough research fund to convince an African American scientist to come to our campus.
Is there anyone to blame?  No there isn't.  The system is entrenched in Old South ways, with the word Diversity thrown around when necessary.  Those reasonable, far sighted individuals who do exist in our administration don't see the difference.  
Just as the article below talks about upscale residents moving into a diverse neighborhood in Queens.  Maybe this Queen's neighborhood more palatable than living among a group of Puerto Ricans (remember all the flack experienced by Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor when she went before Congress - obviously many Americans don't think much of Puerto Ricans) or a group of U.S. Blacks whose parents moved north in the 1930s.
Living In | Jackson Heights, Queens

A Migrants’ Enclave Attracts a New Breed

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