Diversity: we preach it, but It SHOUTS back!

This weekend, I travelled to San Diego for the Sunset Cliffs Debate Tournament.  As I explored San Diego, I noticed two things: nice, clean neighborhoods surrounded by breathtaking nature, and a lack of people on the streets.  In fact, while my team and I were walking around downtown San Diego, I remarked “Are you sure this is downtown??  I barely see any people here.”  It then hit me that upon hearing the word “downtown” our minds always jump to a populated area filled with noise and culture, but if you look at Brooklyn’s downtown, it’s the exact opposite. I think the key missing presence in San Diego, which I see a lot of in New York, was diversity.  On the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University, I noticed that almost 97% of the student population was of white color.  While the diversity that lacks in San Diego is omnipresent in New York, New York still isn’t the best city it could be.  So, what exactly is lacking?  

During the tournament, a few of the rounds had to do with the idea of diversity and gentrification itself. One interesting resolution that reminded me of this seminar dealt with the idea that expatriates cannot make more money than the average citizen in their host country.  This specifically reminded me of gentrification and the movement of wealth and resources between rich and poor countries. In order to prepare for these tournaments, I have to fill my mind with knowledge, as we are not allowed to use any electronic sources during the preparation for a round.  I prepare mainly by indulging myself in the Economist.  One of the articles I came across in my reading time was an article titled, “Diversity Fatigue.”  

At first glance, this title sounds out of place, considering that we are in the year 2018, where the idea of diversity is on everyone’s mind.  However, this article focuses on the struggles of diversity within the workplace.  While employers realize the magnitude and importance of diversity in the workplace, this article states that the fatigue of diversity results from its ineffective enforcement.  Firstly, supporters of diversity are quick to amplify the positive results from diversity, but what they often forget is that the difficulty in enforcing diversity stems from the idea that various cultures and religions can suddenly combine and coexist, without any problems.  Two major challenges in enforcing diversity are: trust and culture.  The president of the Cultural Intelligence Center notes that in the workplace, diversity can only produce innovation and creativity if the workers trust each other.  Most of them are comfortable working with a colleague who shares a common culture, and employers tend to look past this idea when they enforce the idea of “working together” in an immediate and rapid manner.  This instead, results in a higher chance of failure in the workplace because the diversity has not yet been accepted by everyone.  Moving on, another challenge to workplace diversity is that the employers create rules and projects which assume that every culture operates the same way.  Thus, this article suggests that in order for employers to enforce diversity in an effective manner, they need to encourage their employees to build trust with one another, and they need to encourage minorities to “speak up.”  The result of this is that diversity can now improve working conditions for the employees and the employers.  

The reason I chose this article is that it directly relates to what Jane Jacobs talks about–diversity. Jacobs argues that successful diversity results from “constant mutual support, both economically and socially” (Jacobs, 14).  She specifically discusses what the article states relative to cities, in that the reason a lot of neighborhoods lack diversity is due the the lack of trust.  When talking about how sidewalks can enhance safety, she notes that both trust and an “unconscious assumption of general street support” are necessary (Jacobs, 56). What results from this lack of trust are impersonal streets, and this results in the idea of anonymous people, which retrogrades the concept of diversity.  When looking at San Diego, the workplace, or at New York, I notice that diversity likely exists in each place in a unique manner, but that overall, it is not successful anywhere.  While the article covers two major challenges to enforcing diversity, I very heavily support Jacobs’ argument that the reason diversity isn’t as successful everywhere, including in New York, is because all of its elements are not enforced in unison.  The four parts to diversity are: the district must serve multiple purposes, the blocks should be short so that people can be exposed to each other more often, the architecture must be heterogeneous in age, and there should be a dense population in the district (Jacobs, 150). The reason that the diversity which exists in our society isn’t as successful as it theoretically should be is that these four factors aren’t enforced equally.  I think it is quite important to note that while Jacobs argues for all four existing together, I don’t think all four can necessarily be enforced at the same time.  This belief stems from the political atmosphere and the idea that that the people enforcing diversity often have personal interests involved.   

Thus, this article reminded me a lot of Jacobs’ reading, and made me analyze why I feel that the diversity in New York is not as successful as it could be.  While I enjoyed the sightseeing in San Diego, I truly recognized that a city is nothing without diversity.  It felt boring.  Sure, there are a lot of negative effects which result from a diverse socio-economic population, but that same diversity is what caused my mind to be more open and progressive. After writing this response, I am left with one dilemma: how can we improve our policies and actions such that all four factors of diversity exist together?



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