Thursday, November 30, 2006

What's wrong with talking about Diversity?

Because it is cover for talking about race, and for doing anything at all.

Under the spell of diversity, all differences become the same, that is, all differences are erased. There's no way to talk about what differences make a difference.

Under the spell of diversity, the reference point for all comparisons is displaced. Obesity is a different, and being thin is a different, and being smart is different and being stupid is different, but none of it matters, one thing is not better than the other, there's no value to being anything, and everyone is different, everyone is unique, everyone is their own special person, nobody is guilty, injustice is an accident.

Under the spell of diversity, history disappears along with the social values that normally cling like paint to every difference. Talk about diversity is a big lie, it's talk about nothing claiming to be talk about something important. But what is important has been disappeared.

Black people are not diverse, they are black, with all the historical and social meanings that can fit into that term. The same for Asians, for Latinos, for Indians.

In America, these kinds of people are not diverse, they are members of races, even if race does not officially exist. White is also a race, even if white people don't think so, or especially because most white people don't see a race when they look in the mirror.

If white people recognized their race, then race might possibly disappear. It is their color-blindness that sustains race, whether they are looking in a mirror or looking at a black person. White people who claim that when they see a black person they do not see his or her color are simply lying, usually to themselves first. When they say they do not see the color of a brown person, what they really mean is that in their minds they have performed the diversity trick, and disappeared difference and history and responsibility. They see what they want to see, a white person, who has no color, no race.

Affirmative action in America has always been about race and gender. It is not about diversity. In situations where affirmative action, that is, acting in the affirmative, saying yes instead of saying no, is about race, it is about consciously preferring people who are not white to people who are white. This does not even begin to make up for the unconsious preference for people who are white over people who are not white, especially when white people are in charge. Though even many black and brown people have learned to prefer white people. They have learned to see themselves as white people see them. As less.

Affirmative action does not cause anyone to see black people as less than white people. The concerted effort to make black people less than white people, and convince everyone that this follows from natural law as immutable as gravity, is a central part of American history. This is not "black history," this is white history. "Eurocentric" history is not the history of white people, where we think about history as some kind of truth about the past, something people who were there could agree upon: "This is how it was." It is largely a self-serving lie about white people told by white people, often the same ones.