Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

One Tall Voice: Celebrating racial diversity is pointless

Published: August 29, 2008
Section: Opinions

During the collegiate experience, we are constantly told to celebrate diversity. This concept is literally shoved down our throats as our institution and others have crafted “celebration statements” to expound upon this sacred principle. Diversity is extolled as a noble concept, an ideal people blindly pursue.

I for one believe celebrating racial diversity is overrated. Many of the benefits associated with this concept, such as increased perspective and dialogue, are never realized. Furthermore, promoting diversity takes us further away from principles we should be fostering such as commonality and brotherhood. I will probably be deemed a racist for composing this article, but I have been labeled as such many times before. Yet perhaps, dear reader, you may get a perspective outside the typical propaganda and, I dare say, benefit from diversity of ideological opinion.

Celebrating racial diversity does not accomplish its stated mission of bringing greater perspectives and experiences to intellectual discourse. One way in which it fails is that not all members of racial minority groups have different backgrounds simply due to their race. Blacks as well as Whites can come from the inner city, just as members of all races can hail from differing walks of life. It is therefore unfair and inaccurate to believe that minorities have a different perspective simply due to ethnicity. Furthermore, even if an increased perspective was present, I have no idea how it would benefit the community. It is not like open debate on monumental issues occurs regularly in the classroom or around campus. Nor is it as if cultural values and perspectives make an impression upon our intellects through osmosis. I fail to recognize any benefits from interacting with people of different racial backgrounds, as I have little to gain and do not see how this benefit can be conveyed.

In addition, I do not believe that diversity is the value that we should be pursuing. Nearly every monumental instance of bigotry ever committed revolved around the attempt to differentiate classes of people along ethnic lines. Emphasizing people’s racial differences can have a deleterious effect. It separates humanity, classifies us into arbitrary categories, and has a number of other negative consequences as well.

I think that people should not celebrate diversity, but should rather focus on how we are all alike. I began to believe this during my first summer with Americorps where I was one of the few Caucasian members of the staff. My coworkers were interested in different things, and had varying experiences. If I were to have focused on our differences, I would have never been able to connect with my coworkers on any meaningful level. Rather, I looked past our superficial differences and instead focused on our common interests.

If our society is to truly move beyond racial distinctions, we must not emphasize racial diversity, but should rather accept that we are fundamentally the same, and find the similarity among ourselves. Different cultures need not be celebrated, unless this brings us closer to understanding that we are all humans inhabiting the same earth, sharing the same sky. To do otherwise separates humanity by unfairly exposing our petty differences. Focusing merely on diversity and uniqueness makes no unity possible, as the dialogue about sameness is grossly overshadowed. Racial diversity and distinctions are overrated in that they do not emphasize the characteristics that truly matter: the ones that make us similar.

I even think that instead of a celebration statement, our university should adopt a Bill of Sameness. Rather than have seminars and discussions on diversity, we should rally around the characteristics that we all share. This is the path our university should take, the course that will truly bridge different groups of people. Promoting the celebration of diversity takes us further from this ideal as it pushes us away from this meaningful discussion.

Celebrating diversity is truly overrated. It shifts the focus from what makes us similar to what separates us apart. Some have told me that by celebrating diversity, we can find the things that we all share in common. This is hogwash. The most effective means of finding equal ground is to focus on similar characteristics and take the emphasis off what makes us different. And so I truly believe that celebrating diversity is overrated. I furthermore think that people should focus on what makes us the same. This is not to say that the Hoot insert is overrated. Diverse City is a wonderful cultures section and its quality as a publication makes it worthy indeed.