Friday, December 14, 2007


My Tax Dollars at Work

I am always thankful that I live in a country where I can freely mock such drivel as this:

Diversity Training and Development

This leads to additional links such as the Diversity Training and Development Team Book Club and a Diversity Resources Page

Unfortunately, the last laugh is on me because as a now-Montgomery County taxpayer, I am helping to pay for this drivel...all part of the mindset and prioritizing that leads to so-called $400 million deficits.

MC, I must confess: I would not mock these materials but you in fact have not mocked them. One gathers that this is analogous to the joke about the comedians' convention where all of the comedians know all of the old jokes and number them, so that the outburst of "73" brings down the house.

In my view, being quite aware of cultural differences in both the pedagogical process and in the selection at least of advanced course material is prudent, wise, an excellent deployment of resources. It strikes me that other targets are more worthy of your thrifty scalpel, e.g. the Prom, the cheerleading squads or acres and acres of sub-market free student parking.
Bruce- I am perhaps guilty of assuming most are in on an inside joke - whenever I hear/read Diversity or Multiculturalism, I reflexively roll my eyes because I am quite sure that whatever the venue, my status as a conservative, American, straight, white male is NOT going to come out looking good in such training.
In specific instances, I would join your concerns. Perhaps because I have seen them done well - i.e. quite evenhandedly - but have only heard reports of them turning into a counterproductive mess of PC ad absurdum - that I assume that they will likely be done well.

An excellent book on diversity is Tom Sowell's Ethnic America, the author being rarely if ever a basher of the straight white American conservative. Two others focusing on broad cultural/stylistic differences between Euro-Americans and African-Americans are "It's the Little Things" and the more dated "Black and White: Styles in Conflict."

Example. When interviewing with Euro-American and African-Americans clients, I keep an ear out for certain words. When a Euro-American says he had a "fight" with his wife, that usually means that the argument got very unpleasant and personal. From an African-American client, it usually means that someone committed a battery. This matters; when I have gotten it wrong, the client's body language usually revealed "he ain't getting it."

Another is the cultural reality of "code switching." In Europe, it's reasonably common for people to speak one dialect or language at the job and another home at dinner. Many, perhaps most, Black Americans in white collar life have a similar experience, though whether African-American Vernacular rises to the level of a dialect is debatable (linguists seem to say yes.) Most (not all) white collar European-Americans speak at the job and in private in more or less the same dialect, especially if born here, and may tend to underestimate how much "code switching" is an part of African-American cultural life.
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