Diversity is the Solution, Not the Problem

1234 Words5 Pages
Difference defines our world. Race, gender, and sexuality are everywhere. They bounce recklessly back and forth in the American consciousness, creating a fog of confusion in which we all get lost. In an ideal world, difference wouldn't matter. Yet our world is far from ideal, and so we must confront difference, regardless of how painful and complex this confrontation can be. Difference is difficult, and is often used to oppress and exploit. It is a labyrinth, though, in which we must necessarily get lost if we are to ever find our way to understanding. Difference has been the curse of the non-white male for hundreds of years. If you were black, you were a slave. A woman, a servant of the house. Were you plagued by homosexuality, as they would say, you lived a life of repression in the darkness of the closet. There was no room at the top for anyone but the white male, and the system of structural oppression made sure no one even tried to get up. After all, non-white or female meant inferior. They had no business at the top. Stereotypical images and expectations helped to reinforce the power structure. Blacks were stupid and lazy. Women were too gentle, and they must be thin and beautiful to succeed as a wife. Gays...they were just too embarassing to even talk about. Power was where it belonged, claimed those in power, and if you questioned it, it would crush you. Still some courageous men and women did. And then more stood up and raised their voices. And then more and more. Indeed, the struggle was never that simple. Thousands died in the name of progress, and injustice was seemingly everywhere. They fought anyway. Difference would not be a curse, they shouted. We are human beings with inherent dignity, regardless of who we are or what we look like. It was a simple premise, but one not so easily grasped. Progress came--slowly at best--but discrimination, prejudice, and oppressive stereotypes seeped across time. The burden of difference was not so easily shaken. The images and stereotypes of prejudice, you see, have not died. Ronald Reagan invoked the image of the black woman as a lazy parasite when he preached the downfall of the "welfare queen," who, believe it or not, doesn't really exist. Pat Buchannan cried to the Republican Convention that "we must take our country back," meaning get it back into the hands of the rich and powerful white upper class.
Open Document