What Is Diversity Anyway?

"The white populations of the District, Arlington and Alexandria have grown this decade even as the region's outer counties have grown more diverse, according to new census estimates," according to a story in yesterday's Washington Post. As a part-time resident of DC, I was curious about the Post's take on the idea of what constitutes increasing or decreasing diversity in any community. The Post noted that the percentage of whites living in town rose from 28.2 percent in 2000 to 30.3 percent in 2004. My puzzlement is whether this represents an increase in "diversity" or not? Or as the Post story seems to imply, is "diversity" maximized when no white people live in a community at all? Just wondering.

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  • drf||

    In the spirit of Bush=hitler and Liberals=stalin hyperbole, we can transplant people into diversity zones during the next administration.

    And Ronald: ""diversity" maximized when no white people live in a community at all? Just wondering."

    yes. apparently.

    This is like in college one of the "requirements" was to acquire knowledge of a culture other than your own. For me, nothing european. for a female friend, she could take womyn's studies, and that would count.

    and a german gay activist was able to use his "work" on campus as his "diversity". If he were slavic, the title to his paper could have been "the czech is in the male", but that's a stretch for humor.

    WHAT??? it's FRIDAY, DAMMIT.

    time to smear a meatstuff on our chests, get back to nature, and grunt a lot (oh - this isn't "The Gay" article)

  • ||

    Speaking of diversity, check out the episode "Diversity Day" from the NBC series The Office.

  • ||

    Good questions, Ron.

    agentalberta, when is that on?

  • ||

    Diversity is one of those phrases like "international community". Are white people diversity? No. Anybody else? Yes. When America and it's allies do something, does that count as part of the "international community"? No. If France opposes it, are they the "international community"? Of course.
    By the way I like how drf's college forbade white students of using anything European as their diversity requirement, thereby painting all European cultures as the same and ignoring their diversity. Basques, Irish, Poles, Croats, Swedes-all the same shit guys, you don't count.

  • ||

    I was required to take a 'diversity' class in college for which I chose something along the lines of south asian traditions. In the first class I asked the professor how he could teach a class on south asia and diversity while being white - to the guffaws of the entire class. Thankfully he appreciated the humor and my grades didn't suffer as a result.

    To quote Penn & Teller: Bullshit.

  • ||

    From TFA:
    "who can afford to move there, who are most likely to be white"

    "squeezing out minorities, who generally are less affluent."

    "The share of minorities among home buyers is dropping"

    "increasingly powerful white electorate"


    Must. . . remind. . . readers . . . about. . . race.

  • ||

    70+% of the people who work where I work are African-American. It's just so diverse.
    *rolls eyes*

  • ||

    I am reminded of FDR's opening line in a speech he gave to the DAR, "Fellow immigrants".

  • ||

    I've always thought of "diversity" as meaning no one socio-econo-ethnic grouping has a majority in a given community.

  • ||

    Um, ironchef?

    "Must. . . remind. . . readers . . . about. . . race."

    The article was about...um...you know what? Nevermind.

  • ||

    drf,
    You could have done an in-depth study of homosexual Iranian Zoroastrian trends in popular music. In other words, listened to a Queen album.

    It's all for credit!

  • ||

    I don't think the Washington Post actually thinks hard enough about anything to achieve any sort of intellectual consistency.

    Jeff

  • ||

    When the white population of DC and the inner suburbs fall, that's an example of "white flight," and is attributable to white racism. When, on the other hand, the white population of DC and the inner suburbs rises, that's an example of "gentrification," and is attributable to white racism.

  • ||

    Seamus, two different time periods, two different contexts, two completely different situations.

  • ||

    Ronald Bailey may appreciate this:
    Is diversity 1. homogeneity? 2. a solution? or 3. an emulsion?

  • ||

    Joe - next Wed 8/17. They're actually showing 4 episodes in a row from 7-9 pm EST, I guess to promote the second season. Diversity day is at 7:30. Hillarious show. It's a US remake of the Brittish show of the same name.

  • ||

    For those who are unfamiliar with the area, The Del Ray area they mention in the article is right near where I work. I can tell you that the black families that were "squeezed out" of Del Ray probably got 5-600k for their ancient,dilapadated (read "quaint") houses.

  • ||

    Yeah, the "boo hoo" element of gentrification takes a hit when the poor people are selling, rather than getting booted from the places they rent.

  • ||

    Seamus, two different time periods, two different contexts, two completely different situations

    And yet, one single explanation for both.

  • ||

    I don't see gentrification "explained" by white racism very often. Certainly not by anyone who isn't selling those Nation of Islam newspapers, anyway.

  • ||

    I don't agree that diversity by itself is necessarily desirable in every situation, but at least let's agree on a metric

    I propose we use the Simpson's index of species diversity, which takes into account two aspects biodiversity: species richness (number of different species) and relative abundance (aka evenness, which is the distribution of individuals among those species)

    substitute racial/ ethnic group or political orientation or income class or religious identity for species, and we can measure diversity on a number of different factors, rather than just racial diversity, which is what is usually meant by the generic, unmodified diversity. values for Simpson's index range from 0 to 1, and indicate the probability that two individuals that encounter each other belong to different categories (species)

    values for Simpson's index of diversity

  • ||

    I'm just curious joe, isn't the progression of gentrification supposed to be black -> gay -> gentry?

  • ||

    biologist just said black people were animals.

    Kill him! Kill the racist!

  • ||

    in the words of our beloved leader, bring it on!

  • ||

    black people ARE animals. so are white people.

    but I said species, not animals. you might as well accuse me of saying black people are plants

  • ||

    There was a very cool article in the July 23 (I think) Economist talking about diversity in America. According to their study, cities are becoming less diverse and suburbs more so. I wonder if DC is an exception?

    And yes, diversity does mean non-white. My former nonprofit once tried to apply for a grant in Detroit that was set aside for nonprofits with a certain percentage of diversity. Of course, we were about 98% white, while Detroit is 98% black, meaning that we in fact WERE the minority. Not a chance at funding though.

  • drf||

    mk: awesome!
    i proposed getting in touch with my feminine side and play with my breasts all day, but that was rejected. a post colonial white guilt only for americans class was what i ended up doing.

    actually - doing a seminar on Rose Wilder - a libertarian female in the wild west would have been a good one...

    Linguist: "but I said species, not animals. you might as well accuse me of saying black people are plants" - we'd sooner accuse you of "hating america". now turn over the Duran Duran record, flame up another cloves butt, and kick that hackey sack :)

  • ||

    The problem here with "diversity," like a lot of other PC chant-words, is that it has acquired a "meaning" that people have learned to hear inside their heads that has diverged from the term's actual meaning.

    "Diversity" no longer means "many different types of people." It now means "fewer straight white males around here."

    Similarly, "minority" no longer means "a smaller group of people within a larger population." It now means "a group of people who are oppressed by wrongful discrimination." That is why some people call women a "minority" even though they now make up the majority of the population in the U.S.

    (I once read an article about a female college student who genuinely believed the latter sense of "minority" was its actual definition, because she had never been taught the actual meaning. I can't find that article online, but I did find this essay by a person with a similar mindset.)

    This is also why "African-American" only briefly meant "an American of African descent" and quickly came to mean (at least among lazy thinkers) "whatever we used to mean when we said 'a black person.'" This is why I once, while proofreading, caught this headline in a state university publication about to go to press: "Professor Reports on Plight of African-Americans Under Apartheid in South Africa."

    People who can habitually use PC terms without wincing, aren't thinking.

  • drf||

    Good call Stevo!

    and carrying this further, think of the neocons with their talk of "freedom" "responsibility" and "liberty".

  • ||

    Diversity is the polite way to say "down with whitey."

  • Ron Hardin||

    Diversity is a euphemism, and therefore also a resource. You can use it to make jokes now that would have been unintelligible 30 years ago.

    They didn't choose ``promiscuity'' for some reason, in spite of its more elegant Latin roots.

  • ||

    mk:

    Del Ray Represent!

    When I moved into the neighborhood 8 years ago, a black woman who was just moving out said that the neighborhood was "iffy" and one street over I was stared at because everybody was middle-class black and I was lower-middle white.

    I've rented the entire time, and I can assure joe that:

    a) Nobody was forced out--rents have risen here about as much as elsewhere in the area, and rents in general have risen at a fraction of the rate of housing, particularly in Del Ray. A house that sold for $120K when I moved here would sell for about $500K-$600K now. Property taxes have lagged considerably.
    b) You don't read the WaPo much, do you? Unless you're implying they are published by the Nation of Islam.

    As far as homebuying rates among minorities going down, I can assure you that unless your household makes six figures, you cannot afford a home in a decent neighborhood in this or most other areas inside the Beltway (note the qualifier "decent"). I would have loved to have bought here, but the houses have been becoming less affordable to me over time even as my income has outstripped my rent. The houses haven't been getting any better, on average, either, just more expensive for the same property.

    I've resigned to waiting out the bubble.

  • ||

    Sandy,
    You and me both. Let's not hold our breath.

  • ||

    MK, Snady, take heart. I too am waiting out the bubble and I have faith that it WILL soon pop. The people arguing why this is not a bubble but the new status quo sound a lot like the people who said the same thing about the dot-com New Economy of the last century. And to assume the bubble is permanent is to assume that from now on, owning your own home will be something that only the topmost financial percentile of Americans can afford to do. I don't believe this.

    As to the main topic of this thread, I remember a few years ago when a black columnist for the Washington Post did a story called "Is Chocolate City Turning Vanilla?" It talked about how horrible it was that white people were moving into a formerly all-black enclave of DC. The horror! To think that a section of the city might become more integrated than it now is! Of course, this same columnist who insisted that her beloved Chocolate City shouldn't have to tolerate an influx of vanilla would be the first one to scream if a white columnist wrote to complain about black people moving into his lily-white neighborhood.

  • ||

    Correction: the article was titled "Is THE Chocolate City turning Vanilla." The author was Natalie Hopkinson.

  • ||

    Linguist: "but I said species, not animals. you might as well accuse me of saying black people are plants" - we'd sooner accuse you of "hating america". now turn over the Duran Duran record, flame up another cloves butt, and kick that hackey sack :)

    Comment by: drf at August 12, 2005 05:56 PM

    drf: I wrote that, not linguist.

    joe: looking back at another thread, in the last week, you've called me a Nazi and a racist. I'd like to think you're being facetious, but I'm not sure, having now seen your Nazi post.

  • ||


    biologist just said black people were animals.
    Kill him! Kill the racist!
    Comment by: joe at August 12, 2005 04:55 PM



    PETA creates video equating Blacks with common farm animals

  • ||


    By the way I like how drf's college forbade white students of using anything European as their diversity requirement, thereby painting all European cultures as the same and ignoring their diversity. Basques, Irish, Poles, Croats, Swedes-all the same shit guys, you don't count.
    Comment by: Dave at August 12, 2005 02:35 PM



    Or how the "diversity crowd" also forgets that Africa is a really huge continent, with a lot of different cultures.

    Does Kim du Toit count as an African-American?

    Technically, since I also have ancestors from Africa (about, oh, 100,000 years ago or so), I'm also an African-American.

  • ||

    biologist said that black people are vegetables!

    Kill him! Kill the racist!

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