Racial Identity Politics: Is diversity another word for racism?

Segregated showers / flickr CC
Segregated showers / flickr CC

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 – Forever lurking in the background of Racial Identity Politics is the plausibility that ‘Diversity’ is a euphemism for racism – the obsession and pre-occupation with race.

But it was too good to keep a secret, in the opinion of one member of a campus organization called the ‘Diversity and Equity Center’ at  South Puget Sound Community College. You see, the “Staff, Faculty and Administrators of Color”, according to NBC’s local King 5 News, sent out notices of invitation for what was being billed as a ‘happy hour’ to “build support and community” for people of color.

Well, except for one color…White.

The event was intended to be limited to all races and ethnicities with the exclusion of Caucasians. The invitation via email explicitly stated that “If you want to create space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to better our campus community and yourselves, please feel free to do just that.” In other words, “do it somewhere else, because we’re doing our own thing here.”

“It was obviously a mistake,” said SPSCC’s Dean of College Relations, Kellie Purce Braseth. Braseth said the group that put out the email last week apologized the next day and canceled the event.

One could be excused for wondering if in fact there was any ‘mistake’ at all. Perhaps a mis-judgment of what the reaction might be, but certainly the limited diversity was clearly deliberate and intentional.

“That space is not for white people, that space is for people of color,” said Blackhorn, contending that the presence of whites at such a gathering would inhibit discussions of race issues. What race issues actually exist at South Puget Sound Community College, might only reside in the thinking of persons such as Ms. Blackhorn. That white is not a ‘color’ would be a surprise to anyone inventorying a box of crayons.

“When trying to explicitly talk about race it can be a really difficult conversation for a lot of people,” said Blackhorn. Made even more difficult when the focus of the discussion necessarily involves a segment of the ‘race issue’ being excluded from that discussion.  An interesting detail to this story is that Ms. Blackhorn did apparently not exclude herself from the proposed event. If appearances are any indication, she seems to be at least predominantly white.

Ms. Blackhorn’s affiliations include her participation as a board member of  the National Youth Advocacy Coalition – “a social justice organization that advocates for and with young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) in an effort to end discrimination against these youth and to ensure their physical and emotional well being.”

Critics of  the Diversity and Equity Center contend that it’s not at all a stretch to compare the impulse to reject participation in a campus event for one racial group, to a time in our national history when such came under the classification of Apartheid. How ‘progressive’ is that?

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  • michaelnoaka

    Actually white is the combination of all colors and therefore Caucasions are the most diverse.

  • Jason Hops

    Diversity is a code word for less White People.

    Nobody says an Asian country that is 100% Asian needs more diversity.

    Nobody says an African country that is 100% Black needs more diversity.

    Diversity is just a code or White Genocide.

  • GrumpyCat

    What? Men and women sharing the same showers!

  • LakeShoreBob40

    The only “whites” are albinos. Every other person on earth has some skin pigmentation that renders him/her/confused tinted with some coloration. And, come to think of it, since almost all paleo-anthropologists agree that all mankind arose in Africa from which it migrated, every resident of the U.S. can accurately identify him/her/confused-self as African-American.

  • US Army (retired)

    A person’s commitment to diversity is inversely related to their commitment to competence.