Diversity, Inclusion,
and Racism

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Some Thoughts on Diversity,
Inclusion, and Racism

Synopsis: My response to a local “community conversation” on January 16, 2017 about “diversity and inclusion in our area.”

Allegedly honoring the legacy of MLK, a local organization calling itself What’s Next MOV (Mid-Ohio Valley)? hosted a “community conversation” on January 16, 2017 about “diversity and inclusion in our area.” It was promoted on Facebook this way:

Please Join Us For What's Next Wood County? An interactive discussion of our preliminary findings regarding issues and concerns in our community. We invite you to participate in developing an action plan to LEAD THE CHANGE in our area.

Members of the “discussion panel” included the police chief, mayor, president of the County Commission, three “African American”[1] members of the faculty and staff of Marietta College, a trans-gendered man now living as a woman, a militant feminist, and a militant lesbian.

The primary topic of conversation for the evening was how those who perceive themselves as “different” than the “majority of the community” felt they either had or had not been discriminated against because of their perceived “difference” and what the “majority of the community” needs to do to make self-defined “different” people feel “included” in the community. After about the first half-hour I began feeling very uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was taking; it was a general feeling of “wrongness.” So I began examining my thoughts and feelings to see if I could determine why it felt so wrong.

I finally realized that what I was feeling was a compelling sense of racism about the entire conversation in particular and the meeting in general. I then set out to define for myself, for the first time, how I personally define racism.

It occurred to me that — at least for me — “racism” (or sexism or bigotry) is treating any person or group of persons whom I perceive as “different from me” differently than I treat those whom I perceive as “the same as me” simply because of the perceived “difference.”

So then, if I were to go out of my way to either exclude or include an individual, or group of individuals, solely because I perceive them as different from me, I am de facto treating them differently because I perceive them as different. And if I am treating them in any way differently, then I am acting toward them in a biased, bigoted, racist, or sexist manner.

The ancient Jewish Sage Hillel (110 BCE - 10 CE) is quoted as having said: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary.” About 20 years after Hillel’s death, another Jewish Sage presented the same idea from the opposite viewpoint when He taught His students: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That sage was Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef of Nazareth. Three hundred years later, Gentiles would begin calling Him Jesus of Nazareth.

If we were to universally apply the philosophy of those two great rabbis, would that not cause all forms of racism, sexism, and bigotry to cease? It would seem to me, therefore, that my responsibility as a citizen of the Kingdom of God is to treat those who I perceive as “different” from me exactly the same as I treat those who I perceive as the “same” as me, and that treatment must be exactly as I would have them treat me.

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  1. I personally despise the term “African-American.” The vast majority of people who use this term to describe themselves have never lived in any nation on the African continent, nor have any of their ancestors for at least the last five or six generations, so they are clearly not Africans living in America. So do they perceive themselves as Africans or Americans; is their national loyalty to Africa or to America? And what about people of their ethnicity living in Canada or Mexico? I suppose they could also be “African-Americans“ since Canada and Mexico are in North America. The term might also logically be extended to all of their ethnicity living anywhere in the western hemisphere, including all of Central and South America. But what about a person of that ethnicity living in England? Are they supposed to be called “African-Brits”? They certainly are not “African-American” although they are of the same ethnicity. The same holds true for those living in Europe or Asia. It is therefore totally illogical to use the term “African-American” as an ethnic identifier.

Their technical biological designation is a member of the Negroid race. Most anthropologists recognize three or four basic races of man in existence today. These races can be further subdivided into as many as 30 subgroups. Ethnographic division into races from Meyers Konversationslexikon of 1885-90 lists three races: Caucasian (Aryans, Hamites, Semites); Mongolian (northern Mongolian, Chinese and Indo-Chinese, Japanese and Korean, Tibetan, Malayan, Polynesian, Maori, Micronesian, Eskimo, American Indian); and Negroid (African, Hottentots, Melanesians/Papua, “Negrito”, Australian Aborigine, Dravidians, Sinhalese) [source: World Mysteries Blog].

The 1997 standards of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) currently in use five classifications “for reporting data about race and ethnicity provide consistent and comparable data for an array of statistical and administrative programs.” These include: American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Terms such as "Haitian" or "Negro" can be used in addition to "Black or African American". Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

Interestingly enough, the OMB only recognizes two categories of ethnicity: “Hispanic or Latino” (i.e., a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race) and “Not Hispanic or Latino.”

However, if one believes the Bible to be true, then one must also believe that every human on earth is a descendant of Noah and his wife, and the entire concept of race is therefore a totally artificial construct, since we are all the descendants of the same man and woman. In spite of what the OMB uses, I much prefer the term “ethnicity” to describe one’s cultural or tribal origins.  [RETURN]

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