Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dude, where's my intercultural dialogue?

From the Collegian, we hear of the latest diversity event, "'Ask a black dude' panel informs students."

Three panelists answered questions to help break down stereotypes and misconceptions Thursday as part of "Ask a Black Dude."

"Ask A Black Dude" is a project designed by the American Ethnic Studies Student Association, headed by president Kara Wilder, sophomore in speech. This event is part of a series designed by AESSA called the "Say What?" series.

The series was created to make people aware of the diversity on campus, break down stereotypes and create intercultural dialogue on campus, Wilder said.

Okay, the first reason: to make people aware of diversity on campus. Well, just speaking for myself, this is the first I've ever heard of...whadjacallit?..."diversity." Awareness must be created! Awareness is the first step toward power! Because once we have power, THE PROLETARIAT WILL CAST OFF THEIR CHAINS AND DISMANTLE THE OPPRESSIVE CAPITALIST APPARATUS!!!

Oh, sorry, I got a little carried away there. But, y' know, diversity.

And, anyways, how does this make people aware of diversity, merely by asking a "black dude" a question? Or is it just being around the "black dudes" that makes us aware of diversity? Do they think we've never seen black people?

Second reason, "to break down stereotypes"--more on this later, but let me just say here that the whole concept of "diversity" (insofar as it is a concept, which is indeed debatable) is founded on the group stereotype, or group identity.

But it looks great on a poster, doesn't it? All glossy and big and such? I mean, you'll have like one hispanic guy with a shiny white grin, a black guy with a shiny white grin, a female, homosexual Islamic paraplegic with a shiny white grin, all of them grinning whitely, and GRINDING THE WHITE MALE OPPRESSOR INTO THE EARTH WITH THEIR HEELS AND/OR WHEELS!!!!

Oh... again, a little carried away. Diversity.

And, the third reason for this lovely (to be pronounced in three syllables as "lov-EL-y" for maximum mockage) series (pronounce this as you wish) is to *pucker lips like an idiot from Dilbert* "create intercultural dialogue on campus."

Okay, so "intercultural dialogue." If that means anything, it means people from different cultures talking together. So, black dudes evidently constitute a culture. Okay, so what is "culture?" Courtesty of my physical anthropology book, "Humans Emerging":
Culture: humans' systems of learned behavior, symbols, customs, beliefs, institutions, artifacts, and technology, characteristic of a group and transmitted by its members to their offspring.
So basically culture is a shared set of "things" (to use a scientific term) that bind a group together. These black dudes, then, if they are participating in intercultural dialogue, are sharing their black dude culture (which they must, by definition, share with all other black dudes) with the differently cultured audience. But wait, from the article:

The panelists assured the audience that they were not representing all black people, but rather themselves, as individuals.

"I'm not representing my entire culture, I'm representing me and my experiences. I think it will give people an insight into what it [sic] like to be a black man, not every black man," Criswell said. [emphasis added]

He's not representing his culture? But what about the intercultural dialogue? What happened to that? If your just representing yourself, then why the hell should we care what you have to say? That would be interperson dialogue, and I've already got that mastered.

And look at what he said, "I think it will give people an insight into what it [sic] like to be a black man, not every black man." But if what it means to be "a" black man is different for every black person, then is this even a coherent concept? This knowledge that people learn of "what its like to be "a" black man" is not applicable to any other black person except for the person quoted here, by his own admission.

This doesn't seem to be a very efficient way to promote diversity, if we have to give every black dude their own panel to sit on in order for us to be able to understand them. As I pointed out in my columns, you can't reconcile individual identity with a strong group identity. You can speak platitudes out of both sides of your math about "individuality" and "diversity" but you cannot get passed the inherent flaws of the diversity agenda.
The panelists hoped that people would not feel they are representing anything other than themselves and that it would be illogical to suggest that they are.
"If I see a guy wearing a red shirt acting a certain way and the next day I see a different guy wearing a red shirt, I'm not going to assume he's going to act the same way," Jackson said.
YES!!! So we agree. This is great. Down with "diversity" and such. But where's my intercultural dialogue? I was promised an intercultural dialogue, and here I get all these "individuals" that are speaking for themselves. Bait and switch! Bait and switch!

Also from the article, I found that there is a major more pathetic than political science: "[one of the panel members is a] sophomore in social science with an emphasis on diversity."

That is really sad. No, I'm serious, that IS sad. Diversity as an emphasis? Do these people even know why diversity is used now? It's not because we all the sudden recognized its inherent utility--no. Justice Powell created "diversity" as a justification for affirmative action in The Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

None of the other justices agreed with this portion of his opinion, it was so bizarre and even illogical. This dicta from the Bakke case was solidified into something like a constitutional principle in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger. And that's why we speak of "diversity" now--not because we recognized that it should be extolled in the pantheon of American ideals along with "liberty" and "equality." Diversity was simply the justification used to keep affirmative action alive. It was, as Justice Clarence Thomas put it in his dissent in Grutter v. Bollinger, a "faddish slogan of the cognoscenti."

So its really sad that this student is being used like that. The real people that lose out under diversity are those that it purports to help, and those that buy into it the most.

Just, y'know, sad.

update: And this Wilder gal that's mentioned at the beginning of the story, that's president of the American Ethnic Studies Student Association? Yeah, she sits by me in Spanish 2. Talk about awkward. But at least I'm free riding off her diversity. It, like, enhances my education tenfold!


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