Experience is more important than diversity

Husnain Raza

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In the present-day United States, especially since the inauguration of President Trump, race has been a consistent topic of conversation.

 

With various racial minorities facing discrimination, it has become important to tackle these issues head on.

On the contrary, though, people have become more concerned about race, even more so than what actually matters–the diversity of people’s experiences.

In a post-Charlottesville world, with the rise of white nationalist groups, the country is becoming increasingly divided over lines of political orientation and other demographics.

While the political right has clearly shown its bad apples in regards to racism, the left – in its attempt to protect racial minorities – has also made sweeping generalizations.

While the left’s intentions may be good, they are inherently making generalizations based on race. Merriam-Webster defines racism as the belief that racial differences produce inherent superiority of a particular race.

In a New York Times article titled “Can My Children Be Friends With White People,” author Ekow Yankah argues that because of the actions of some white people, he feels the need to teach his children to not befriend white people. I cannot think of anything else to call this other than racism.

Some might argue that racism is instead “prejudice and power”, and therefore since black people are not in positions of power, they cannot be racist. I argue that this is problematic. Who says that black people are inherently in a position lower than other races? Is this not inherently judgemental thinking?

Making generalizations about a person based on their race is racist and wrong, no matter what that race is. You can be racist towards white people, black people, brown people, and any shade in between.

Instead, a person should be judged on their individual merit and what they bring to the table as a person. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

It seems like America has forgotten these words. Much controversy arose after the former VP of diversity of Apple Inc, Denise Young Smith, said, “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.”

So much controversy was stirred from this benign statement that she had to step down.

What was controversial about this statement? It’s so similar to the words of King, one of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

I cannot think of any reason why this would be so controversial that Smith had to step down.

On a more personal level, in the past I have been asked about my experience as a brown student. I have always been confused as to why people ask this. The fact that my skin happens to be slightly darker does not change my individual experiences as a student–to think so would be absurd.

It’s annoying whenever people assume that because I am a person of color, I have a different experience of the world than a person of a different race.

I am completely in favor of tackling specific problems that a racial community might face, but this cannot be at the cost of keeping in mind that race should not be a defining characteristic in differentiating people.

Race neither helps nor hinders a person, and to think so is what racism fundamentally is.

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