Forced Diversity

And the Oscar goes to…nobody Black (not this year anyway)…and that’s okay. I’m well aware some would disagree with my assessment based on what took place immediately after the 2016 Academy Award nominees were announced. The topic of diversity, or rather the alleged lack thereof, took center stage leading up to the ceremony, and the all too familiar “race card” was played by many ethnic minority celebrities. A few of their White colleagues joined in, and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began trending on Twitter in response to the Academy’s perceived failure to diversify. Some of Hollywood’s finest even promised to boycott the annual event.

Then came a statement from Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who said, “I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion.” She went on to explain the Academy had already been implementing changes in order to diversify, yet there was more work to be done. I think boycotting this past February’s prestigious awards show, and even the industry’s insistence on “needing” to have a serious discussion about race, due to the supposed lack of diversity, was disgraceful. In actuality, this year’s Oscar winners, of the five major categories: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director, were a Brit, a Swede, a Mexican, and two Americans (of different descents). Now that’s diversity!

Diversity is a wonderful thing. Life would be pretty boring if everybody mirrored one another. Imagine living in a world where everyone was exactly like yours truly. Perhaps the world would be a better place, but boring nonetheless. However, forced diversity is not a wonderful thing, yet the unsound practice appears to be spreading throughout the land like an aggressive cancer. Nowadays, there always seems to be some individual or organization trying to make a case for increased ethnic diversity where none is really warranted.

For example, I recently came across a story in USA TODAY, written by correspondent Bill Theobald, about the Centennial Initiative (a partnership consisting of numerous conservation, civil rights, and environmental-justice groups) whose members are very concerned about the lack of diversity at our national parks. The coalition’s main objective is to raise the percentage of minorities using the National Park System. Additionally, the alliance would like to see more minorities employed by national parks and an increase in the number of parks emphasizing the role of minorities in American History. The partnership (named for this year’s 100th anniversary of the National Park Service) is worried about a 2008-09 study which found that those visiting national parks were disproportionately White. Carolyn Finney, a member of the coalition, says, “The face of America is rapidly changing, yet our public lands do not reflect this demographic and ethnic diversity.”

So what? The same 2008-09 study, the Centennial Initiative is referring to, also cited explanations as to why minorities weren’t visiting national parks. The main reason was they simply didn’t know much about them. Neither do I – and I’m White. The minorities surveyed also viewed parks as being unsafe and unpleasant. If people, regardless of their skin color, desire not to embrace the National Park System then that’s their choice. It looks as though the Centennial Initiative is fighting an uphill battle, in attempting to force diversity at national parks, since the Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans surveyed have apparently already made the decision to stay away.

An even more outrageous article, concerning so-called lack of diversity, comes from Bob Nightengale. The USA TODAY sports writer is troubled because he thinks there aren’t currently enough Black pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB) and that true diversity is still only a dream. The columnist wrote, “There’s an alarming trend that mystifies the industry. It’s the dearth of African-American pitchers.” First of all, I think there are numerous other things of greater importance to worry about than the color of pitchers playing professional baseball.

Secondly, the USA TODAY story offers a few different reasons as to why the percentage of MLB’s Black pitchers may have declined over the years. The list does include stereotyping and hints of racism, but Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President, Bob Kendrick, says, “Maybe it’s simply a case of parents not wanting their kids growing up to be pitchers. People don’t really view athleticism transcending onto the pitcher’s mound as you would an outfielder or a shortstop. It’s really the last choice of the parents.” Choice!

There’s really no good reason for trying to force diversity because it’s already amongst us. It may not be equally proportioned, but rarely in life is anything 50/50. The fact is there are more Whites in this country than any other nationality, so simply alluding to a percentage as an indicator of some sort of injustice is extremely misguided. Forced diversity is nothing less than counterproductive. Elevating any race at the expense of another (e.g. Affirmative Action) only amounts to reversed discrimination. We do not need more people of color in the entertainment industry, or an increase of minorities to visit our national parks, or more Black pitchers in professional baseball – just for the sake of diversity.

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