Ignoring the melting pot

Christopher Taylor

At a Baptist church in Harlem, I heard a reverend preach about diversity. It was the first time I appreciated it — hearing from a man whose circumstance was directly affected by America’s lack of diversity across the board.

But society lags behind in having various populations represented in higher paying jobs, as top faculty members at universities or as politicians.

Right here, Kent State has come up extremely short on ensuring this principle among both students and faculty.

I repeat ratios from an earlier editorial: There are 1,945 white faculty to 88 black faculty. It is probable that most students will complete their bachelor’s degree without ever having a black faculty member.

And yet, the administration continues to campaign on the idea that Kent State is a “diverse” campus when we continue to lose talented faculty members to universities that offer domestic partner benefits to heterosexual unmarried partners or homosexual partners. The longer Kent State waits to actually care about its faculty, the more we lose. I might suggest taking a portion of the salary of some drastically, pathetically, disgustingly overpaid top administrators at Kent State and giving domestic partners some of the benefits that married couples receive.

On a national level, particularly among Fortune 500 companies, approximately 98 percent of CEOs and 95 percent of the top earners are white males, according to an October 2005 Christian Science Monitor report. And women, blacks and other minorities are disproportionately underrepresented in Congress and as governors of states.

But finally, we are beginning to see a slight change. Massachusetts made history on Nov. 7 by electing the second black governor in the history of the United States, Governor-elect Deval Patrick. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are currently the two most popular Democrats in the nation and are considering running for president. In a recent CNN poll conducted in October, they are running one and two for the Democratic nomination in 2008. I feel confident to say that we will soon have a minority nominee for president.

All of these statistics suggest something about American society: Even as we are trending the right way, we have a lot of work to do. There is nothing wrong with the idea that a person needs to work hard to get to higher positions in society, but it is difficult for racial and ethnic minorities, who are more often in lower socioeconomic circumstances than whites, to work their way out of their conditions. A CNN 2004 article reported that the poverty rate for blacks, about 24.4 percent, was about twice the national rate.

Diversity comes down to creating a mix of people with different backgrounds, attributes and experiences. I’m not asking for stricter laws that might take away rights of small business owners; instead, I am asking for people’s attitudes to change.

That’s why an equal opportunity employment clause at every business serves as a reminder that owners must have a diverse workforce. But it is difficult to ensure that racism, sexism and homophobia do not creep their ugly heads into public institutions and private sectors, which are even harder to monitor.

Some say diversity isn’t about backgrounds, it’s about ideas. But without a workforce from all walks of life and who have experienced different things, there would be minimal diversity of ideas.

Christopher Taylor is a senior nursing major and point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].