27 May 2007

Porcelain Ponderings

Does the title of this post give you reason to pause?

There are very few magazines I subscribe too, because for the most part I don't have time to read them. Something that I found interesting enough to pay for eventually becomes stressful, because issues pile up high enough to make me feel as if I'm wasting my money. So in an effort to read them, I put them in the one place where people generally have little choice but to sit down and sit still, just for a moment: the porcelain palace. The readable ones, anway. (Yeah, you heard me, Every Day With Rachael Ray...)

I thought of this practice in new light when I moved back home a few weeks ago, and realized my parents' magazines go in much the same place, a magazine rack within reach of the toilet. Yet another example (these seem to be accumulating) of how as I grow older I'm becoming more like them? Hmm. More on that later.

Anyway, I was perusing the magazine rack (what?!) at my parents' house the other day when one magazine caught my eye: an issue of a rag called DiversityInc Magazine. Now, I have no idea why they'd have this one, other than it might have been a trial subscription. Though they can certainly appreciate diversity, neither of them owns a business. What I noticed, however, was the headline. Apparently, the issue in question ranked a number of businesses/organizations based on 'diversity' and found the shocking conclusion that the worst company for diversity was.... (drumroll)

The US Senate.


Considering this is an elected body of officials, chosen by the people, what is this supposed to tell us? Are we to be chided for our selection of rich white men for government? Are race, class, gender, or ethnicity supposed to be a determining factor for our votes? (Nope, Pennsylvania already elected the black guy, maybe we can go for a latino woman with a bum hip and a learning disability...) On the flip side, are race, class, gender, ethnicity, or disability legitimate portions of a resume? To what point does a politician have to experience life through the eyes of his or her constituents to faithfully represent their interests? And how can they do that without alienating all the other groups? One might as well split up the community, be it neighborhood, city, state, or country, into similar groups, and then have representatives for each one.

I think a survey like that.. and the fact that 'diversity-minded' (what the hell does that even mean? I'm not sure, and I worked in resident life at a liberal public university for two years. Diversity was my favorite D word.) literature would chide our selection of representatives, tells us a lot about the system, and about who we are as voters ourselves. The analysis of Barak Obama's chances for a presidential nomination are a good example. I can't quote the sources (too lazy to go back and find them), but I know I've read analysts several times who suggested he was 'too black' to get the 'white vote,' or 'not black enough' to get the 'black vote'. One author hosted on The Colbert Report was emphatic that he was not black, but that he was an American of African descent, which was an entirely different thing.

I wonder if, in our push to balance the ideologies of equality and of an appreciation for the individual/diversity, we're really missing the whole point, getting too caught up in the package and not the person within it.

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