Diversity and Inclusion!

Hooray for diversity, the 1980s version

W.J. Astore

I got a circular from a university today boasting of their efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion. Good things for sure. Such circulars and brochures are all the rage. They typically feature lots of people of color and a few inspiring stories of grads who’ve beaten the demographic odds in their particular field. Sometimes it’s made obvious the grads are also part of the LGBTQ community, a double dip into political correctness. And I truly dislike that PC term.

Again, these efforts are commendable and necessary, but the self-promotional tenor of these marketing brochures gives me pause. They remind me of those old Benetton ads that assiduously promoted diversity as a way of moving product. It’s a fine thing to be diverse, inclusive, tolerant, and so on, but can we just do it and shut up about it?

Even the Army is getting into the act, promoting recruits who come from non-traditional families (two mothers, for example). America is so great that even our warriors are woke, which is truly upsetting to people like Senator Ted Cruz, who prefers old-fashioned tough-guy Russians in the ranks. Cruz fears our military is “emasculated,” but if I recall, he couldn’t handle a few cold days in Texas and bugged out to Cancun before he was called out for his hypocrisy. Please, Ted, bring your manliness back to us!

Having served in the military for twenty years, I met and served with plenty of “diverse” people, to use today’s terminology. I had a white guy evangelical boss and a Black woman colonel boss. I had plenty of colleagues who were Black and brown. I can’t say if they were LGBTQ since I served in the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” era, but I really don’t think I would have cared. I have male friends who live with their husband and female friends who live with their wife. The first time you see it (at least for this Catholic white boy), you’re a bit surprised just because of the novelty, then you get over it because love is love and who really cares anyway? We’ve got bigger fish to fry in America.

To repeat myself, I’m all for diversity and inclusion. Let’s do it. But can we also truly focus on health care for all, a living wage for all, a healthy environment for all? Can we stop our disastrous wars and stop building new nuclear weapons while destroying the ones we have?

Because I don’t feel better when America’s allegedly more diverse and inclusive military keeps having to fight the same old dumb wars overseas, where, sadly and with bitter irony, they kill a lot of people with Black and brown faces and with backgrounds that would register as “diverse” and “inclusive” and therefore worthy of being promoted and celebrated by those same glossy university brochures I receive.

Readers, what do you think?

More Thoughts (5/23/21)

To state the obvious, there’s nothing new about the push for diversity and inclusion. Reading a tribute to JFK from 1964, I saw this: “This is a time when we are struggling to guarantee that persons of all classes, creeds, and races may move into positions of economic and political leadership…”

Nowadays, class isn’t often mentioned, but race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on are. BIPOC, Black, Indigenous, people of color, is a common acronym. So too is LGBTQ.

Diversity and inclusion shows up in many places. Consider the first three “Dirty Harry” movies from the 1970s. Harry’s first partner was a Mexican-American. His second partner was Black. His third partner was a woman promoted by a quota system driven by diversity concerns. Harry comes to respect all these partners because they’re good, not because of BIPOC or gender.

Of course, we have a long way to go to be truly diverse and inclusive. But, and here’s the rub, if we see more women at work but they still make only 80% (or less) than men make for the same job, that’s not right. And it’s not solved simply by hiring more women.

And if “Black faces in high places” promote the same policies as the same old white establishment, is there truly progress here in policy? In fairness for people in the lower classes, i.e. for workers of all colors and orientations living paycheck to paycheck?

Biden has been touted as having a diverse cabinet, but when it comes to policies that would truly help the working classes, how diverse is it, really? For example, Biden has already essentially abandoned promises to support a $15 minimum wage and a public option for health care. Higher wages and cheaper health care would be a boon to BIPOC, LGBTQ, indeed everyone on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. The only problem is that corporations may see lower profits, including health insurance and drug companies. And guess who received lots of money from these corporations and companies? Joe Biden and his “diverse” cabinet.

I wonder why they won’t help diverse members of the working classes when they say they’re so committed to diversity?

18 thoughts on “Diversity and Inclusion!

  1. You’re right about “in-your-face” diversity. Let’s just be color-blind. I especially don’t care what your sexual orientation is. Please don’t tell me. It’s not my business. My battalion in VN had an excellent S-3 major who was back. My boss in the US Forest Service was a very fair and reasonable woman. I recruited women into my volunteer fire dept. Just treat everybody fair and evaluate them based on performance.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Amen! Especially your closing statement about not just celebrating black/brown here, but stopping our slaughter of them in their home countries – oh, and also ensuring that all our diverse citizens have health care, a living wage, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. I don’t get the hype about a diverse military if we’re pursuing the same endless wars and killing so many innocents overseas, most of them far poorer than Americans and of “diverse” colors and religions.

      We need diversity of viewpoints in the military and at the Pentagon, and let’s include voices of dissent and peace!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I could post a long essay about the hypocrisy of the DEI movement. However, I will limit myself to a few observations, and a link a Harvard Business Review article.

    The link first: https://hbr.org/2016/07/why-diversity-programs-fail

    Observations:
    One of my patients who is Latina, bisexual, and who has done a lot of work for oppressed minorities was exposed to a DEI consulting firm hired by her company. She had the impression that one of the consultants was rather ignorant of what individuals from minority groups experienced and spoke up about that. The consultants attacked her viciously and when one of her co-workers came to her defense they attacked that co-worker too. From her perspective the consultants were some of the most intolerant people she had ever come across.

    DEI and its close cousins “Anti-racism” and “Critical race theory” seem designed to increase intolerance and polarization. The people who claim to be “inclusive” or “anti-racist” use the same processes that racists use. They seem to stereotype those who disagree, self-appoint themselves to positions of moral superiority, and have no ability to question the possibility that they are biased.

    The people who propound this nonsense seem to be largely rich, or at least upper class, and making large amounts of money for themselves, while doing nothing of substance to actually benefit poor people in a minority group, or poor people of any group.

    Here is a segment of my local medical society meeting’s topic for this month on DEI:
    LGBTQIA+
    Lesbian -Female-identified person attracted to female-identified people
    Gay -Male-identified person attracted to male-identified people
    Bisexual -A person attracted to two (or more) genders
    Transgender -A person whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth (umbrella term)
    Transexual -A person who has transitioned sexes (not often used anymore –diagnostic roots)
    Two-Spirit-A Native American term for people who blend or cross genders
    Queer -An umbrella term for all of those who are not heterosexual and/or cisgender. Means different things to different people
    Questioning-A person questioning their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity
    Intersex -A person whose biological sex characteristics do not fall within the bell-curve of male or female(NOT a sexual orientation or gender identity)
    Androgynous -A person appearing and/or identifying as neither man nor woman.
    Asexual -A person who does not experience sexual attraction
    Agender -A person who does not have a gender identity
    Ally -A person working to end oppression through the support and advocacy of a group other than their own.

    Given the fact that we are still in a pandemic and that drug overdoses are up ~40% over last year, why are people allocating mental space for stuff like this. Most of my patients are struggling to stay sane and healthy and are not particularly concerned with this stuff. They are not feeling oppressed due to their gender identity or whatever, they are experiencing oppression from low pay, exhausting working conditions, and health care that they can’t afford.

    Personally, I don’t particularly care what genitals people do or don’t have, or what they do with their genitals, as long as they only do it with consenting adults and not in my direction.

    Sorry, I guess it turned into a long essay.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YES: “they are experiencing oppression from low pay, exhausting working conditions, and health care that they can’t afford” — SPOT ON.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I admit I might not come across as politically correct here, but it seems to me that singling out a specific characteristic to emphasize is a definition of bias. As in, the old,”I have black friends,” meme. Why is it necessary to make that distinction? Does their skin color make them different from white friends?

    The paper for which I used to work got a LOT of mileage (read: advertising dollars) out of its Women of Note awards events. Then it was decided to run an endless series of features: Women in Technology, Women in Medicine, Women in Real Estate, ad nauseam. At one point, I got a call from a [male] subscriber who wanted to know why there wasn’t a Men of Note awards event, and I had to laugh and tell him that that was an excellent question!

    All this to say that, to me, making a big deal out of successful women, saying that, by definition, women who rise to the tops of their professions are newsworthy SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY’RE WOMEN is insulting to all women. I can’t explain this idea very well, but it seems that the underlying assumption is that women usually aren’t worthy of making it to the top, so when one does, it’s big news. It’s a subtle form of discrimination that’s sold as wokeness, imho.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A perfect example here is all the hype about Kamala Harris: the first Black female South Asian VP. OK. So? What are her policies? What has she achieved for ordinary Americans? How does she embody diversity other than her gender and skin color?

      Even to ask such questions is to risk being called sexist and/or racist.

      To me, Kamala Harris is the same ol’ same ol’ establishment Democratic politician with a phony laugh and principles that are unfixed but tilting rightward toward the richest and most powerful. Diversity — Really?

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I think you have an important point here, Denise. The award should simply go to the person, not to the person as the member of a particular group. Labeling the person as a member of a particular group calls attention to their membership and not to what they got the award for. So if I were going to give awards to songwriters, I should give it to songwriters, evaluating them ideally without knowledge of their group membership. The blinded evaluation helps correct for unconscious bias, which can be important. I recall reading that far more women musicians were able to audition successfully for seats in major orchestras after all applicants had to play anonymously behind a screen..

      Then just announce the awards. Since there are talented songwriters of all races, genders, etc there would be representatives from all of them. No need to call attention to the extraneous qualities.

      If we are going to label people based on their group I think it should be done far more precisely. We could get the info off FB For example “Our first award winner tonight is Tony Pardo. Tony is a relatively short, left handed, partially balding, nerdy male, ex-Catholic, 3rd generation American of Italian ethnicity, hailing from a middle-class background, who has no pets, identifies as heterosexual and uses the pronouns he/him. Our second award winner is …

      Liked by 3 people

  5. To state the obvious, there’s nothing new about the push for diversity and inclusion. Reading a tribute to JFK from 1964, I saw this: “This is a time when we are struggling to guarantee that persons of all classes, creeds, and races may move into positions of economic and political leadership…”

    Nowadays, class isn’t often mentioned, but race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on are. BIPOC, Black, Indigenous, people of color, is a common acronym. So too is LGBTQ.

    Diversity and inclusion shows up in many places. Consider the first three “Dirty Harry” movies from the 1970s. Harry’s first partner was a Mexican-American. His second partner was Black. His third partner was a woman promoted by a quota system driven by diversity concerns. Harry comes to respect all these partners because they’re good, not because of BIPOC or gender.

    Of course, we have a long way to go to be truly diverse and inclusive. But, and here’s the rub, if we see more women at work but they still make only 80% (or less) than men make for the same job, that’s not right. And it’s not solved simply by hiring more women.

    And if “Black faces in high places” promote the same policies as the same old white establishment, is there truly progress here in policy? In fairness for people in the lower classes, i.e. for workers of all colors and orientations living paycheck to paycheck?

    Biden has been touted as having a diverse cabinet, but how diverse is it, really?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Diversity and inclusion” is Newspeak for “Affirmative Action” and from the start has been nothing but a numbers game, with the Democrats pandering to the latest crop of special interest groups that have arisen in recent years (I consider any individual, group of individuals, or corporate entity who wants more or different/special rights from those already guaranteed to US citizens to be a special interest group and special interest groups, no matter how righteous their cause may be, ultimately become divisive elements).
    The fabric of American society is woefully torn and frayed and the Democrats sucking up to anyone and everyone who can call a press conference or print up t-shirts with their logo or rallying cry on them isn’t going to get the job done.
    Again: the GOP wins big in the mid-terms and re-occupies the The White House in 2024.
    Hey, here’s an idea for a headline for The Onion … “GOP To Democracy: ‘Kiss Your Ass Goodbye!'”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, affirmative action. I recall the slogan. Just what “action” are we “affirming”? I recall reading somewhere that proponents of preferential treatment chose the slogan because it sounded good. A vague, somewhat positive, term. How can you be against action that affirms something good?

      But I guess that term has outlived its usefulness so now it’s about diversity and inclusion.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The assumption of Affirmative Action being along the lines of, “Obviously, people of color can’t compete on their own merits, so we should just legislate quotas.” Instead of simply making hiring and college admissions processes free of bias, then improving primary and secondary education in less “privileged” areas.

      Like

  7. Another detail regarding university campuses is that the boasting is mostly wishful thinking. Those posed pictures present a rainbow environment that doesn’t really exist. Nearly all universities under-employ minority faculty and under-enroll minority students. Campuses exploit their exceptional success stories, but have very little to boast of when the overall campus climate for the median student is considered.

    Like

  8. LOL. I know a girl who believed the brochure U. of Michigan sent to her–about diversity. And needless to say, when she went there, not much diversity is happening around her. She has been trying to transfer out last time I heard from her. So don’t trust those brochures.

    Like

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