I’m guessing that when a lot of people hear the word “diversity” these days there’s a lot of eye rolling and shaking of heads. Well, it does for me, anyway, because it’s now a corporate buzzword:
“We strive for a diverse employee environment.” (ha!)
“We acknowledge the diversity of our clients.” (yeah, right)
When a lot of the academics and corporate folks are talking about diversity (and I’m going from my anecdotal experience here), they are usually talking about race or religion. Now, the discussion around race is super important, I don’t deny that at all. And religion is important, too, but when a lot of folks talk about diversity it is usually devoid of intersectionality.
Diversity is an umbrella term and also includes: class, body size, queerness, transgender, gender, culture, and many other things.
I think I’m going to sound like a broken record about this, but I think that the narrow focusing on aspects of diversity, while not necessarily a bad thing to do, is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s great when there’s a win for one aspect of diversity, but we can’t stop there.
For example: The big film industry, aka Hollywood, is pretty horrid in regards to diversity. Racial diversity and white washing in blockbusters is way too common. Then you’ve got gender issues (hello, Bechdel test). Then there’s queer issues (which has been getting slightly better, but still…). And let’s not forget the transgender issues (cis actors playing trans characters, trans people being the butts of jokes, etc).
But what about body size? The only movie I’ve really seen with a positive portrayal of a smart, capable fat woman that wasn’t about her fatness was “Spy.” What about religion? I don’t think I’ve seen any media in Hollywood that has portrayed Islam, Paganism, or other minority religions very well, nor have there been many action heroes or leads who are religious in some way that wasn’t Christian.
How about our news and other media? Our news has a lot of the same issues. It’s not as common to see diverse news anchors, talk show hosts, etc. Sure, the US has BET and Univision on mainstream cable, but I doubt you’ll get an Arabic channel anytime soon.
I’ll talk more about intersectionality later, but only paying lip service to, or being successful in one of the, specific areas of diversity does not give you, your group, your religion, or your company a pass on working on ALL aspects of diversity.
This is part of a series of writings on social justice for 30 days. You’re welcome to join me.