Diversify this

Adam Griffiths

I’ll admit it. I did a giddy double take at the cover of this month’s Out magazine. It features the male lead stars from the CW’s out-of-nowhere success, “Gossip Girl.” The story is teased, “Charm offensive: Roughhousing with the Gossip guys.” Obvious sexual implications aside, the cover represents a trend for Out: Billy Crudup, Johnny Knoxville and Guy Pearce are among the knowingly straight cover stories for an admittedly gay periodical.

Straight and gay. Black and white. Man and woman. All stereotypes that come in various forms of epithets used to empower and restrain progress among social groups.

In the Out cover story, there’s discussion of Penn Badgley’s character, Dan, and the very real possibility that he will be going gay in the near future.

“I don’t think network TV really has the balls to make one of their (teenage) series’ regulars gay,” Badgley says. “Let’s say the show builds up to become a big hit, then I think they’d maybe explore it in year three or four. It would be an interesting thing to do. It could bring in a whole different demographic.”

A different demographic swayed by what? A gay teenage boy in a mostly straight teenage society? In the name of diversity, it couldn’t be.

But really, it could, is and will be.

Diversity is increasingly a political game we play to score points on a social network. We measure a person’s integrity and validity with primitive mindsets that have sustained themselves throughout history and continue to do so for lack of an alternative method of categorizing people without judgment or clout.

Concession: Sweeping misconceptions and prejudice govern how diversity politics play out. That’s an incontrovertible fact, and I’m not trying to sweep it under the rug. But the question is, like it often is as our generation grows up and moves to assume control over our world, who cares?

Diversity will only be a political concern and front-page benchmark until it isn’t, and it isn’t going to be in our time. We perpetuate the underlying discrimination that we’ve absorbed since birth. Nothing is as simple as a magazine cover. There’s a judgment we make, and that internal flick guides our reasoning without us ever realizing it.

My friend Chris is in the class future resident assistants take as part of their training to become community builders on campus. Earlier this week, he mentioned one of the questions he had to consider.

“Do you believe there is a privilege system in our society? What stereotypes exist about those who are in the dominant groups? What stereotypes exist about those who are in the subordinate groups? Are any of these stereotypes valid or true?”

The entire question is stereotypical of diversity politics, and by teaching campus leadership how to consider the ways through which one social group is subverted by another, Residence Services may be trying to broaden horizons, but it frankly comes off as racist, sexist and classist in the overall scheme of preparing students for the real world – it perpetuates diversity.

But the Stater has been said to be racist. Black students say they don’t see enough of themselves.

Search KentNewsNet.com for the polarized terminology.

“Black students” yields more than 540 responses. “LGBT” comes in at about 70 mentions. “Asian” comes in at 62. “Hispanic students” – 21.

Those words and numbers speak for themselves, and they say a lot more than any of us would be willing to admit – especially by glancing at the front page of a magazine.

Adam Griffiths is a sophomore information design major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].