Indeed, race has turned out to be a gateway drug for all kinds of identities, cultural, religious, sexual, even medical. You get bigger crowds, a lot livelier party and a much stronger sense of solidarity for Gay Pride Day.
No issue of social justice hangs on appreciating hair color diversity; no issue of social justice hangs on appreciating racial or cultural diversity.
The good ways involve just the opposite: Indeed, diversity has become virtually a sacred concept in American life today. But Gatsby is not really about someone who makes a lot of money; it is instead about someone who tries and fails to change who he is.
Various newspapers have run series noticing the growth of inequality and the decline of class mobility; it turns out, for example, that the Gatsby-style American Dream -- poor boy makes good, buys beautiful, beautiful shirts -- now has a better chance of coming true in Sweden than it does in America, and as good a chance of coming true in western Europe which is to say, not very good as it does here.
We would much rather get rid of racism than get rid of poverty.
At the same time, however, the understanding of these issues has proven to be more a symptom of the problem than a diagnosis. And we would much rather celebrate cultural diversity than seek to establish economic equality.
The starting point for a progressive politics should be to attack that trick. The trick, in other words, is to stop thinking of poverty as a disadvantage, and once you stop thinking of it as a disadvantage then, of course, you no longer need to worry about getting rid of it. In the Class Matters series in The New York Times, for example, the differences that mattered most turned out to be the ones between the rich and the really rich and between the old rich and the new rich.
And, second, even though the concept of diversity was introduced as a kind of end run around the historical problem of racism the whole point was that you could argue for the desirability of a diverse student body without appealing to the history of discrimination against blacks and so without getting accused by people like Alan Bakke of reverse discrimination against whitesthe commitment to diversity became deeply associated with the struggle against racism.
It was saying instead that universities had a legitimate interest in taking race into account in exactly the same way they had a legitimate interest in taking into account what part of the country an applicant came from or what his or her nonacademic interests were. White is not better than black, but rich is definitely better than poor.
And Hurricane Katrina -- with its televised images of the people left to fend for themselves in a drowning New Orleans -- provided both a reminder that there still are poor people in America and a vision of what the consequences of that poverty can be.
More fundamentally still, we should not allow -- or we should not continue to allow -- the phantasm of respect for difference to take the place of that commitment to economic justice. In the last year, it has sometimes seemed as if this terrain might in fact be starting to change, and there has been what at least looks like the beginning of a new interest in the problem of economic inequality.
The class we like is the middle class. What if the diversity of thought is about your sales plan? So with respect to race, the idea is not just that racism is a bad thing which of course it is but that race itself is a good thing.
And yet, it is the thing we have become most committed to talking about. First because, for all I know, George Bush does care about poor people; at least he cares as much about poor people as anyone else does.
In the s, racial science was in its heyday; now very few scientists believe that there are any such things as races. This essay is adapted from the introduction to his new book, The Trouble With Diversity: As survey after survey has shown, Americans are very reluctant to identify themselves as belonging to the lower class and even more reluctant to identify themselves as belonging to the upper class.
Today, such a restriction would seem as outrageous and unnatural as interracial -- not to mention gay -- marriage would have seemed then.
And this vision has proven to be extraordinarily attractive. The American love affair with race -- especially when you can dress race up as culture -- has continued and even intensified. Microsoft, for example, is very ingenious indeed. It was not asserting that preference in admissions could be given, say, to black people because they had previously been discriminated against.
My university -- the University of Illinois at Chicago -- is ranked as one of the most diverse in the country, but well over half the students in it come from Chicago.
And the kinds of solutions that might actually make a difference -- financing every school district equally, abolishing private schools, making high-quality child care available to every family -- are treated as if they were positively un-American.
But what American liberals want is for our conservatives to be racists. A world where some of us are black and some of us are white -- or bi-racial or Native American or transgendered -- is a world where the differences between us present a solution: As would your skin color; some people might like it, some people might not, but it would have no political significance whatsoever.
One way to look at The Great Gatsby is as a story about a poor boy who makes good, which is to say, a poor boy who becomes rich -- the so-called American Dream.
But classes are not like races and cultures, and treating them as if they were -- different but equal -- is one of our strategies for managing inequality rather than minimizing or eliminating it.The Trouble with Diversity Paper instructions: Read an 8 pages article and respond in 1 page.
Discuss how Walter Benn Michaels uses F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in “The Trouble with Diversity,” which discusses the “red herring” nature of many current “diversity” arguments.
What is the most salient point Michaels makes in his essay?. But Walter Benn Michaels is not buying it. In his daring new book The Trouble With Diversity, he argues that cultural diversity obscures the more radical problem of economic inequality.
The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality [Walter Benn Michaels] on ultimedescente.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A withering examination of how the celebration of cultural and ethnic difference obscures our yawning economic divide.
/5(31). Oct 03, · Let's stop talking so much about race, argues University of Illinois at Chicago English professor Walter Benn Michaels in The Trouble With Diversity; l.
Aug 13, · Walter Benn Michaels is a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This essay is adapted from the introduction to his new book, The Trouble With Diversity.
Review: The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality by Walter Benn Michaels.Download