The following letter was written in response to Breeanna Sveum’s column “Diversity More than Just Race” (Sept. 11, 2008, The Bullet):
Breeana Sveum made a good point in addressing the diversity that exists in the white community; for instance, a white Irish person and a white Polish person have two very different cultural traditions and consequently a degree of diversity between the two. And we agree with her point that cultural diversity is manifested through “more than just skin color.”
But her article doesn’t address a crucial factor of race relations and diversity: to be non-white is to experience the world in a dramatically different way than someone who is white.
Within any group one can find diversity, but it must be obvious and perceptible to be legitimate.
At a table at Seacobeck, three blondes and two brunettes conversing with one another using the same language with similar accents are not perceived as being ethnically dissimilar. It does not matter that one is descended from Dutch immigrants, another from Germans, etc., etc.
This facet of their heritage is masked by dialect, accent, and appearance, and is of insufficient salience to consider their group an assemblage of diverse cultural representatives: A mass of students sharing similar socio-economic and racial backgrounds cannot be considered diverse when the only evidence of a distinction lies in their inter-personally unobvious and unreported ancestries.
The white experience is very different from the black experience, and the brown experience.
And while diversity exists among each of these groups, the greatest amount of cultural diversity can be seen between them.
So if our goal at this university truly is to increase diversity, then inviting different ethnic minorities is key.
By increasing diversity, we foster an environment filled with different ideas and fresh perspectives—but we also answer the call for fair inclusion and social justice.
Pete Guzman is a junior and Antonio Changanaqui is a sophomore.