AAmerican the diversity is in the spotlight as racial discrimination in the United States reappears as a major topic of public debate, spanning everything from education to housing to the police.
The context of the quality of American diversity is inescapable as the multiple debates around race relations continue to rage.
We tend to think of diversity in demographic terms, but that’s an incomplete idea. It has a qualitative element – it exists as a reality that we all interact with.
The debate around the right to vote, for example, applies to an American electorate that overwhelmingly lives in racially segregated communities.
Even the bans of Critical Race Theory – the academic movement that examines how racism has shaped public policy – will be implemented in currently racially segregated schools.
But the quality of diversity is rarely discussed in popular culture.
The meaning of words like “equity” and “inclusion” – often used in discussions of diversity – is difficult to grasp until Americans have looked at what they think “diversity” looks like. This is because the quality of diversity includes both a political and a moral stance from which equity and inclusion make sense.
The quality of diversity is how Americans exist among themselves. It can be described in two ways: segregated coexistence and community life.
These two terms reflect a fundamental battle in American culture between segregation and integration. As a curriculum theorist who studies the impact of race on education and society, I believe there is a need to recognize this distinction.
Segregated coexistence is a norm of diversity that relies on a surface demographics that you might call “diverse” because different races all live in a single geographic region, such as cities like Detroit or my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Beneath this demographics, the reality is a pervasive state of de facto racial segregation where enclaves are so plentiful in American cities that people readily associate races and ethnicities with certain neighborhoods, schools, and zip codes.
August 2021 map compiled by CNN based on 2020 census data clearly lays bare residential segregation rampant in the United States
In June 2021, the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California at Berkeley, a research group, released a report on residential segregation. “Of every metropolitan area in the United States with more than 200,000 residents, 81% (169 of 209) were more segregated in 2019 than they were in 1990,” the report notes.
He also claimed that “83% of the neighborhoods that received poor ratings (or ‘redlined’) in the 1930s by a federal mortgage policy that denied mortgages to blacks were, in 2010, highly segregated communities of color. “
Segregated coexistence is the racist seed from which many contemporary racial conflicts have their roots.
This is because the segregation where people live is a physical confirmation of their enforced inferiority. Denying them fair treatment in other areas becomes easy once they are denied freedom of movement.
To live in a community
Living in community is a different reality. This is not easy to achieve because the integration is difficult for many reasons.
Before different races can live in community, there must first be interracial justice that leads to racial reconciliation. Scholar Eric Yamamoto describes this process as the recognition of the historical and contemporary damage that different racial groups have done to each other, affirmative efforts to address justice grievances, and the restructuring of current race relations in such a way that broken relationships be healed.
The success or failure of integration depends on whether Americans want to reconcile racially or whether they are so used to conflict that they cannot come together.
It means rethinking the way governments allocate resources, including providing equitable funding to schools and, in the private sector, diversifying executive leadership.
Doing this work means answering the political and moral question that has accompanied us since the founding of this country: how should we treat those we consider different from us?
This question permeates everything from civil rights cases before the Supreme Court to whom we welcome as neighbors or ostracize as strangers and intruders.
All of these debates have critical implications for America’s domestic stability. But they are often discussed as a matter of theory and political talking points, without any real-world anchoring.
If we want to debate diversity in any situation, maybe we should ask ourselves whether we want to live in separate enclaves or in community, fully aware of what this means and what our response says about us. as individuals and as a nation.
Nicholas Ensley Mitchell, Assistant Professor of Program Studies, University of Kansas
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
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