Monday, August 20, 2007

Diversity: good or bad for community?

I was reading along at Tod Bolsinger's blog this a.m. and thought his post about diversity combined with the short news segment clip was surprising and worth sharing here. Definitely listen to the end. It packs a punch.

I posted my thoughts in his comments, but listen to the clip first.

7 comments:

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

I wasn't able to access the clip but did read the article. Personally, I am not sure diversity should be on trial...but...rather...our attitude towards diversity. I am not sure we have been educated or socialized to see the "potential value" of diversity...but...I propose we more likely have been taught to tolerate diversity which is different, imo...and.. despite all our well meaning rhetoric about diversity over the years I am not convinced we, as a society have done an adequate job modeling the potential virtues of diversity. Yes, it's true that we live in a democratic country that allows for a lot of diversity but how do we actually treat those who are different than us...and...I am particularly unconvinced that the media has done a good job interacting or representing the diversity that is out there. Just look at the media and listen to how they are constantly saying about each other and the marginalized in general...I am not asserting or implying that "all" diversity is good. Obviously we have criminal laws that prevent people from hurting or abusing others but if our diverse practice or beliefs of this or that are not harmful to others than I don't see why we can't learn to accept and attempt to learn from the diversity of others...

carrie said...

It amazes me that it has taken some people so long to see this! 10-20 years ago I was having discussions with people about the need to assimilation, not separation, in society. The multicultural agenda pushed differences and made the idea of assimilation into another word for "oppression." But the strength of our country, built by immigrants, has always been that as the immigrant peoples moved into the middle class, they assimilated into the general cultural around them. It doesn't mean all unique cultural habits and traditions need to be scrapped. But it does mean we need a larger, unifying identity to hold us together. Then, as was mentioned in the article and the video clip, we find like-minded peopel and activities within the larger context.

The comment about the evangelical churches made me wince. It's amazing that he assumes everyone listening will agree with his negative concept of them. But the idea that they could be a model for community assimilation makes a lot of sense.

julieunplugged said...

Carrie, one of the interesting projects here in Cincinnati is called "The Amos Project." They include members of all kinds of churches, a temple and non-Christians in projects around the city. In working together on shared tasks, they become friends and it has little to do with their religious affiliations.

I like the idea of transcending difference through shared interests.

Julie

iluka said...

I wonder what a similar study would show in Canada where we don't have a tradition of "assimilation" but of "mosaic". Vancouver is pretty diverse and I think we all mostly like it that way. At the local university we have also had some fanfare about refurbishing the loos for Muslims, the transgendered and nursing mothers. A little bit of griping, mostly from the pro-breastfeeding contingent complaining the nursing mothers shouldn't be relegated to feeding their babies in bathrooms. Except for the usual suspects in letters to the editors most people just accept it, some with a roll of their eyes but they know there isn't much point complaining.

Canada doesn't have much of a national identity of its own. Much of our identity is caught up in being affirming and multi-cultural and being "not American". I can go shop at the "night market" (a Hong Kong -style anything-goes small vendor fair) in Richmond, I can go buy fabrics and Indian sweets along Main St in Vancouver, I can attend Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrations (a combination of Robbie Burns/Chinese New Year), join Iranian friends in celebrating Nirouz or share a meal with Sikh friends at the temple. I can also attend my own Anglican church and appreciate the very good things about my English roots. I can laugh riotously and unashamedly with my CHinese and Indian friends at Russell Peters and his race/ethnic-based humour in which we all recognize the silly and funny about ourselves and how others see us. Living without all that would seem very lonely and poor to me.

julieunplugged said...

Ikula, what a great post! When I read it, I thought: that's like Europe! (at least on some levels). Funny to bond over "not American" yet I think I can get it too.

Thanks for a terrific insightful alternative view.

iluka said...

By "not American" I don't mean anything derogatory. It's as if we have a much more famous, gregarious, and just occasionally obnoxious older brother and people keep mistaking us for him. As much as we love him we still feel the need to point out we aren't him. I'm Mariam, by the way. I accidently used my blogger identity when I posted (and had to rapidly go and delete my previously-unseen-and-not-ready-for-viewing blogs) when I realized what I'd done!!

Steve said...

Surely you know that Tod is one of my bestest buddies.....no?