Struggling Toward Diversity

March 13th, 2009  |  Published in note to self  |  1 Comment

The ethnic makeup of my old high school, from greatschools.com.

The ethnic makeup of my old high school, from greatschools.com.

Next week is spring break for IU and public school students in Bloomington.  I have heard that many students’ spring break trips to Mexico have been cancelled because of parental fears related to reports of drug-trade related violence in Mexico.  Bz came over last night for dinner and brought some mole sauce she got on her somewhat-recent trip there.  My own cultural tourism happens across the street from my job at an international market that is run by an ambiguously related group of South Asians and Latino People.  Eating good, exotic food is a wonderful, exciting experience, but it’s a far too cheap and easy (but frequent) way to think of diversity.  Since diversity is something that comes up a lot when I talk about thinking of moving, I feel like I need to have more of a definition for what I want.

This is hard because, as I read Sundown Towns and find so much of the geography of racial segregation (the West Shore of the Susquehanna; Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; Crossville, Tennessee) is familiar to me, and see school statistics realizing the racial makeup of my high school, it is something that remains unreal, idealized, even mythic to me.  Hopefully this can be a start.

Diversity is:

  • Not celebrated in atomic festivals, media campaigns, concerts, or commemorative months or days.  It is a constant, pervasive, and unforgettable sense of how my life and the lives of those around me is mediated by race, ethnicity, culture, gender, body, and sexual orientation, among other things.
  • An understanding that confusion and conflict between people is often grounded in cultural context and differing experiences.
  • A search for those shared experiences and values that transcend different experiences and histories without the expectations that we can or should share all these things.