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Opinion

Diverse ways of viewing diversity
 
Published Thursday, February 13, 2014
by Raynard Jackson, NNPA

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld made some comments last week about not caring about diversity in Hollywood, especially in the area of comedy, and set off some heated conversations across the country.

Seinfeld was on CBS This Morning being interviewed about his Internet-based show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Seinfeld has been criticized in the past, as he is now, for having no minorities on his hit TV show “Seinfeld.” When asked about this by the reporter from CBS, Seinfeld said “People think it’s the census or something? This has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that…It’s more about PC nonsense than are you making us laugh or not?”

I happen to agree with Seinfeld. I have never watched his TV show nor have I watched his webcasts. He has absolutely no obligation to have a diverse cast on any of his projects.  If that really bothers you, then why do you watch his shows? It’s called choice. Turn him off, and tune him out.

Maybe, just maybe, you are not his intended viewer. Have you ever thought about that? I don’t support diversity for the sake of diversity.

The rap group NWA has no whites in it; should they be required to have at least one white person in the group? The Deltas have no men in their sorority; should they be required to just for the sake of diversity?

If you want diversity, then it must be sought across the board.  But who determines what is diversity, and how do you know when you have enough?

America has yet to come to grips with its diversity. Unfortunately, far too many view our diversity as a liability – as seen by the reaction to the interracial Cheerios TV ad that ran during the Super Bowl.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, whites are 72 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics are 15 percent, and blacks are 13 percent. For the first time in American history, the white death rate outnumbered white births in 2012. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

So this continued march towards diversity will only become more pronounced. How that will be reflected in our society is an open question.

The Census Bureau projects that whites in the U.S. will be the minority within three decades. What will be the impact on America when this happens? What will be the legal definition of minority? Will it be whites who will be making demands of us – the newly constituted majority?

The winds of change cannot be stopped or slowed. Diversity can and should be embraced. Globalism has shrunk the world. World travel is more affordable than ever before. More Americans should take the opportunity to visit a foreign country this year.

Diversity can be an asset or it can be a liability, depending on whether it is embraced or resisted. Certain things must be embraced in order for diversity to be an asset. 

English must be the language that binds us together. Knowing and understanding America’s “total” history is mandatory to understanding how good we have it. Believing in America’s promise of freedom and opportunity, while never forgetting your heritage, helps you to fully embrace the American dream.

But, in this pursuit, we must resist the temptation to self-isolate based on country of origin, race or religion. I fail to understand how a person can live in America or any country for years and not speak the native language as too many immigrants have done. Far too many people have never been to a church outside of their own denomination. Far too many people have never been to an ethnic restaurant in their own city.

America is far from perfect, but sometimes we spend so much time focusing on that which divides us that we forget what unites us. Remember, we can’t have unity without “u-n-i.”

 

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm.

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