Posts Tagged ‘Diversity’

Maybe we all really can get along

February 11, 2017

This Danish television program takes people who fit in different boxes ethnicity, belief and social and economic class, and shows the commonalities that exist across these divisions.   Who among you was the class clown? they were asked.  Who are step-parents?   Who is madly in love?

It’s easy to put people in boxes.  There’s us and there’s them.  The high-earners and those just getting by.  Those we trust and those we try to avoid.  There’s the new Danes and those who’ve always been here.  The people from the countryside and those who’ve never seen a cow.  The religious and the self-confident.  There are those we share something with and those we don’t share anything with.

And then suddenly, there’s us.  We who believe in life after death, we who’ve seen UFOs, and all of us who love to dance.  We who’ve been bullied and we who’ve bullied others.

  Maybe we all really can get along.   Hat tip to kottke.org.

Racial diversity and American religion

August 2, 2015

FT_15.07.23_religionDiversityIndex-1

We Unitarian Universalists value diversity and try to welcome all people, regardless of race.  So why are we so much more racially homogeneous than the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

I think the reason is that the intensity of the Adventists’ and Witnesses’ belief in their dogmas makes other considerations, such as race, unimportant.  The same thing is true of the Bahai.

We UUs are a big tent in terms of religious belief (even if relatively few people are under it).  But a non-creedal religion is something that college-educated white people tend to want more than people of other ethnicities and backgrounds do.

Should we give up our distinctive trait in order to broaden our appeal?  I don’t think that anybody—white or black—would want to affiliate with a group of people who are embarrassed about what they are.

One question that this chart raises is whether diversity within groups is compatible with diversity among groups.

I wouldn’t want to see the African Methodist Episcopal Church or the National Baptist Convention give up their identity as black churches.  And I don’t see how you could have a strong AME Church if the United Methodists recruited a large number of their members.

Likewise, it may be the case that the Missouri Synod Lutherans or the Evangelical Lutheran Church have traditions thjat are more meaningful to Germans or German-Americans than to the general public..

Religion is supposed to express universal values, but these values are rooted in particular heritages.  Get rid of these heritages and there might not be much left.

LINK

The most and least racially diverse U.S. religious groups by Pew Research.

More diversity, less equality: why the tradeoff?

May 24, 2013

During the past 30 or 40 years ago, the United States has come closer than ever before to equal opportunity, not only for African-Americans and women, but also GLBT folks and the physically handicapped.

At the same time a huge gap has developed between a tiny elite, who gather a greater share of American wealth and income year by year, and the vast majority of Americans, who are either falling behind or struggling as hard as they can to keep even.

Samuel Goldman, writing in The American Conservative recently, said this is no paradox.  He wrote that the tradeoff between diversity and equality is a result of a tacit grand bargain between the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s and corporate America.

inequality… The stories of greater social equality and economic inequality are far from “unrelated”.  Rather, social inclusion has been used to legitimize economic inequality by means of familiar arguments about meritocracy.   According to this view, it’s fine that the road from Harvard Yard to Wall Street is paved with gold, so long a few representatives of every religion, color, and sexual permutation manage to complete the journey.  Superficial diversity at the top thus provides an moral alibi for the gap between the one percent and the rest.

via The Spiritual Crisis of the Bourgeois Bohemians.

Rod Dreher, also writing in The American Conservative, put it this way.

economic_inequalityFrom a contemporary progressivist point of view, non-rich social conservatives who vote Republican do so out of false consciousness, or mindless bigotry.  But how many liberals would vote for a politician who proposed to stick it to the banks and the oligarchs, and who endorsed a broadly progressive economic agenda, but who openly opposed gay marriage and abortion, and endorsed religious piety?  (Basically, your pre-1970s Catholic Democrat).  Very few, I would imagine.

The culture war is in some ways class war by another name. Whenever you see some middle or upper class person gabbing on about the importance of diversity, you shouldn’t expect that they mean actual diversity — because then they would be eager to include, say, white working-class Republican Pentecostals — but rather diversity as what Goldman calls a “moral alibi,” which entails one’s ability to conceal one’s own real motivations from oneself.

via Culture (War) Is Everything.

I think there is a lot of truth in this, and it explains a lot.

It explains how Silicon Valley billionaires can avoid taxes, export jobs to some low-wage Third World country and shrug off the problems of middle-class and working-class Americans, and still be considered liberals and good friends of President Obama.

And it explains how President Obama can still be considered a liberal as he tries to undermine Social Security, attack teachers unions and negotiate trade treaties that lock in the corporate agenda.

When I worked for Gannett, CEO Al Neuharth ostentatiously promoted the advancement of African-Americans, women and gay people, which made him bullet-proof against criticism for offering sub-standard pay and benefits and crushing labor unions.

Our “diversity training” sessions always seemed to me to be part of a policy of divide-and-rule. I remember that at one session, a gay white man got up and said that gays, African-Americans and women in the newsroom should unite against the straight white men—not a view that would improve morale or teamwork.   He was not rebuked, and was later promoted.

The tipoff as to management’s aims was in the fact that they refused to agree to a clause in the union contract calling for non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.  The company wanted GLBT people, as well as African-Americans and women, to look to management, not to fellow workers, for their rights.

Of course acceptance of diversity is a good thing, not a bad thing.  It is a good thing that Ursula Burns, a black woman, can become CEO of Xerox, but not everybody can be a CEO or wants to be one.   Some people are content with an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, and what’s wrong with that?

Nor is there any logical reason why diversity and equality should be tradeoffs.  The U.S. labor union movement has long ceased to be a movement primarily of native-born white men.   Trade unions recognize that they can’t win unless they stand together, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or anything else.

§§§

[AFTERTHOUGHT 5/25/13]

As I see it, one link between social liberalism and economic inequality is a widespread meme that sees society as an arena of competition and social justice as a guarantee of fair rules and a level playing field.

If you see society in this way, rather than as a means for people to co-operate for mutual benefit, then justice demands that you do your best to assure equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, physical handicap or anything else that isn’t under control of the individual.   But these meme does not give the wealthy any obligation toward the non-wealthy.  It would be like demanding that the winner of a high-stakes poker game return some of his winnings to the loser.

 

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Diversity as divide-and-rule

April 2, 2010

Allen Neuharth, who was CEO of Gannett Co. Inc. from 1973 through 1989, was a great journalism pioneer. At a time when newspapers were in decline, he founded two newspapers, Florida Today and then the widely-imitated USA Today. He combined graphics, pictures and text to present information more effectively than could be done text alone. He broadened the definition of news. He was in the forefront of advanced newspaper technology.  He built from Gannett from a regional to a national newspaper chain.

He was a strong proponent of diversity in the newsroom and in news coverage.  While demographic diversity is irrelevant in some fields (for example, air traffic control), it is definitely relevant to journalism. Newspaper readers represent a wide range of opinions, social classes, educational levels and ethnicities; having a balance between men and women, blacks and whites, Anglos and Hispanics, gays and straights ensures, at least, a wider range of life experiences than you would got from a group of straight white Anglo males.

But I am sure Neuharth was astute enough to realize that his championing of diversity gave him cover from criticism for other policies – paying wages below average for the industry; striving to crush the Newspaper Guild, the reporters’ union, at all costs; downgrading investigative reporting in favor of “lifestyle” coverage; subordinating everything except union-busting to corporate profits. The story is told that when Neuharth was asked whether the corporate name was pronounced GANNett or GanNETT, he replied, “The emphasis is on the ‘net’.”

Our “diversity training” sessions at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle seemed to me to stir up antagonism rather than promote understanding. At one such session, a guy from the art department said that gays (I hadn’t known until that moment that he was gay) should join forces with women and people of color against straight white males. Nobody rebuked him for this.  His statement was forgotten by everyone five minutes later, but it certainly was not calculated to foster teamwork and unity.

In the business news section, where I worked, we had a young black guy thrown into a job for which he did not have the experience or training. He floundered, and was given no special training or help to improve. He responded by appointing himself the enforcer of racial correctness within the section. We had a young black woman who did a good job for which, in my opinion, she never was given sufficient credit by the then-editor. At the same time higher-level editors pressed her to take a supervisory position for which she knew she was not qualified.

Eventually both these people got new jobs and quit the D&C.  The last I heard, they were doing well in the new jobs, so the problem was not with them but with the false positions they were put in.  It can be good to put talented people on a fast track for promotion so they can exercise responsibility at a young age, but if so, they need mentoring and apprenticeships to prepare themselves. It helps nobody to hire somebody, in order to meet a quota, for a job they may not be able to do, and then leave the person to sink or swim on their own.

Newspaper Guild Local 17 had a clause in our contract barring discrimination race on race or gender. We wanted to add a clause based on sexual orientation, but management refused to agree. My assumption is that they wanted gay employees to think of equal opportunity as a gift handed down from on high,, and not as a contractual right enforced by their fellow employees.

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Affirmative action and me

March 30, 2010

When I was just under 16 years old, I was awarded a scholarship which entitled me to go directly from the 10th grade of Williamsport (Md.) High School to the freshman class at the University of Wisconsin. This was in 1952, during the Korean War, and the Ford Foundation Pre-Induction Scholarships were intended to allow bright boys (girls were brought in later) to complete college prior to their military service obligation.

Some years later Prof. Herbert Howe, the administrator of the Ford scholarships at Wisconsin (three other college participated in the program) told me how the selection was made. His original idea was to award the scholarships based on scores on tests given to applicants. The letter of application was also a factor; he weeded out a guy who said he would “try to be a good egg and a credit to the Wisconsin omelette mater.”

But when the test scores came in, all the highest scores were by students in two elite high schools in New York City – the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School. Since it wouldn’t look good to give all the scholarships to students from just two high schools, he restricted them to 50 percent of the scholarships, and also allocated 10 percent of the scholarships to residents of the state of Wisconsin.

My own test scores were nothing special, he said; he chose me because I was the only applicant from the South and because I chose to be tested on my knowledge of history and English rather than the sciences, as all or almost all the other applicants had. He said he thought that just because I was so different from the others, it would be interesting to take a chance on me and see how I worked out.

In other words, I was a beneficiary of affirmative action. I was chosen on the basis of my demographic characteristics rather than my achievements. I was chosen for the sake of “diversity.”

I was glad he waited until I had a couple of years of college under my belt before telling me this. If I had known this right off the bat, it would have shattered my self-confidence.

I didn’t, and I don’t, feel bad about the reason I was given the scholarship. But because of this experience, I don’t get indignant because here and there blacks or Hispanics get something they aren’t strictly entitled to.

By the way, I never met any black Ford scholars. I don’t think there were any, but there could have been some, because I didn’t meet all of them. Prof. Howe kept us separated so that we would blend in with the rest of the college population and not come together as a separate group. It never occurred to me back then (the program ran from 1951 through 1955)  to notice the absence of black Ford scholars or wonder about the reason for it.

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