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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Exactly what does "diversity" mean?

An Ivy League college is considering two applicants. One is an upper middle class black boy from Fairfield County, Connecticut. He played on his high school basketball team and ran track in the spring. His older brother goes to a different Ivy League college. The other is a middle class white boy who grew upon a farm in Idaho. He was an Eagle Scout, and wrestled on his high school team. His older brother is in the Marines. Let's say they got A minus averages and 1950 on their SATs, and both are decent but not great athletes.

We don't really have to ask which kid would get in ahead of the other.

But which one would bring more actual diversity to an Ivy League college? Which one has a background which would be rarer in those environs? Which one would be more of a breath of fresh air at, say, Yale? Which one could expose his classmates to a truly different background, and set of attitudes?

Obviously, the kid from Idaho. Yet any of the Ivies would, for their purposes, consider the upper middle class black kid from Fairfield County more "diverse."

The implication of this view of diversity is that blacks and whites are diverse purely because of their races. But if we're diverse, where exactly do we diverge?

What are the differences? Could our diverse DNA possibly express itself in differences in average IQ, testosterone level, propensity to violence, sprinting ability, or ability to create and maintain a civilization?

That's not possible, you say?

But if you don't care to acknowledge any divergences, isn't the very concept of diversity rendered meaningless?

Also, aren't the benefits of "diversity" usually touted most strongly by the same people who claim that "race is only skin deep," or, alternatively, "there is no such thing as race?"

Isn't that a contradiction?

Perhaps some college administrator would care to elucidate.


Andrea Ostrov Letania said...

There are more than one kinds of diversity. There is visible/external diversity--race, sex, ethnicity--and invisible/internal diversity--ideology, values, etc. Ivy League schools wanna look visibly diverse to sell their progressive credentials. A white conservative in a liberal elite college LOOKS like just another white person whereas a black student, liberal or conservative, makes the college look more diverse; better for public relations.

Indeed, elite colleges will favor rich black conservatives over middle class white liberals via affirmative action. Public image of an institution matters a lot, and colleges wanna LOOK right. The effect of the LOOK is instantaneous. If you see a black guy at Harvard, it is DIVERSE!! But if there's a white conservative, you wouldn't know merely by looking. You would have to get to know the person, and who has time for that?

Brian Fradet said...

John--That was so well illustrated. Great perspective added. Thanks, Brian

John Craig said...

Thank you.

John Craig said...

Andrea --
Sorry, your comment went to my spam box for some reason, so I'm late in posting/replying.

You're absolutely right, appearances are everything to these deep-thinking institutions with good values.

Pete said...

Appearances are often much more important than the reality of things, much as we might not like it.
Controlling the meaning of words often means control of the framework within which ideas are shaped, which is usually the intent from the outset.
I saw some graffiti on a wall once, written by two successive persons, as follows:
First person: Words don't mean a thing nowadays.
Second person: Words mean anything nowadays.

John Craig said...

Pete --
Ha! They were both right, which I guess is your point.

Anonymous said...

John, did you read this today?
This was the first comment from a reader scott w that I saw;
"As I read this, I noticed how Rudi is pretty much like most of the other kids at Stuyvesant: She lived in the suburbs, has lived a mostly privileged life and attended some of the better schools, with parents who seem to care deeply about her. How is she different, really, from almost all of the other kids at Stuyvesant? If diversity is truly a concern here, why not reach out to impoverished kids, kids in the foster care system, kids with parents living on disability in the worst parts of the city? I suspect that Stuyvesant does not want these kids, just like employers don't want them, nor anyone else for that matter. Creating "diversity" by focusing on something as superficial as skin color, does not lead to a diversified student body at all."

John Craig said...

G --
I saw the article in the paper (literally, the paper), so didn't see any of the online comments. Scott W is right though.

Thanks for pointing that out.

Anonymous said...

John - I am an educator with two masters degrees and several years teaching experience. However, I only had four years with the school district I was with until last June when they cut staff and my position was eliminated. (Thank you, governor, for cutting school district education budgets!)

It's around this time of year that any potential positions for next fall start to pop up. Today, I came across an ad for a job fair in which all school districts in my county would be represented.

Unfortunately, they bill it as the "Diversity Recruitment Fair." The flyer has two pictures of teachers with students. One black and one asian. It's quite obvious that what they mean by "diversity" is "No Whites."

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
Sorry you got bit that way.

You do seem to have a good handle on "diversity." In today's pc world, euphemisms often seem to mean the opposite of what they're supposed to mean.

Typical example: "open-minded," which really means close-minded to all but the politically correct position.

Steven said...

Great point. You are especially good at highlighting the hypocrisies and contradictions in the liberal mentality.

John Craig said...

Thank you Steven.