by contributing writer Quinlan Mitchell
The problem with diversity as it is largely practiced in American culture today is that the term is more or less shorthand for “smiling-ethnic-people-waving-to-curious-white-onlookers.” Think early twentieth century World’s Fair style. If we’re being real, most talks about diversity, cultural showcases, and So-and-so’s History months are often just exploitative ways for white culture to ease its guilt about continuing oppression. I once went to something called a “Diversity Showcase” which consisted of (mostly people of color) dancing on stage for a large, white audience.
I was floored.
No dialogue, no voice for people of color, no meaningful cultural exchange. Just vaguely “ethnic” peoples dancing around in ‘authentic’ costume. For a lot of people, unfortunately, that showcase is what diversity is all about. People of color were oppressed before the Civil Rights Movement, but now we’re all equal so let’s celebrate—somebody find some ethnic performers to dance! (more…)