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Diversity: The Invention of a Concept Paperback – July 1, 2004
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Anthropology professor Wood examines two kinds of diversity. Diversity as physical and cultural variation among humans was propounded by nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century systematic anthropology. Diversity as the conviction that physical and cultural traits should determine one's eligibility for admission to college, career advancement, and bestowal of government largesse arose from Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell's freestanding decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, in which he allowed that differences in race, gender, and other traits--designated as diversity--were worthy of consideration in distributing social goods. The new diversity quickly became an aggressive ideology, damaging American institutions and poisoning public discourse with "identity politics." Wood blames the Left for using diversity to undermine democracy and faintly praises the marketplace for trivializing it into a matter of lifestyle choice. But the marketplace is interested in making money off diversity, not quashing it. "We will be left," he sadly concludes his otherwise surprisingly congenial survey, "for a long while still, with the reign of diversity's pasteboard stereotypes." Ray Olson
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"A perceptive and closely reasoned examination of the spread and implications of contemporary Diversity."
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Top Customer Reviews
His reasoned, measured approach to the harms and schemes being perpetuated in the name of diversity will provide a measure of solace to anyone who has fallen victim to this illogical, emotionally driven agenda and should let those who deal in diversity drivel and its twisted logic know that theirs is not a cause built on solid ground. This book is very well-researched and written, and hence is a pleasure to read---even though it will take some time.
The idea of bestowing special treatment to members of certain races and ethnicities is unlikely to vanish soon, yet books such as this one are essential reading for anyone who wants to understand fully the underpinnings and ramifications of the relentless, reckless rush toward "diversity."
Wood's book provides the historical backdrop for the emergence of "diversity," principally in Justice Powell's opinion in the Bakke case, which involved a colorblind interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment but included agreement that race could be taken into account as a factor in an admissions program, not as the decisive factor but insofar as the race of a black applicant contributed to an institution's diversity. With that door open, the notion of diversity has become pivotal in later case law and, indeed, throughout our academic and corporate culture. The latter, interestingly, was advanced dramatically by a 1987 report entitled Workforce 2000 from the Hudson Institute.
That report garbled some key demographic statistics and suggested that by the year 2000 the percentage of white males entering the labor force would be 15%. Hence the need to change the contemporary universities' way of doing business so that a diverse array of graduates would have the preparation to meet America's corporate needs. The percentage at the time of the report was 47%. The (muddled and mistaken) drop to 15% was reported throughout the media and given considerable attention. The actual number in 2000 was 45.6%.
Wood's survey of the "diversity" concept is historical, with particular attention given to the law, to the academy, to culture and to commerce. It is rich in its examples and often humorous in its tone. Those who have disagreed with some of its conclusions or analysis have acknowledged that it is exceptionally well written and a very enjoyable read.
I would note that Wood is an anthropologist and that his training and credentials provide him with a unique outlook on an issue that has been discussed from other perspectives but seldom from that of a professional anthropologist. The book is learned and important, but written with a light touch that all readers will appreciate.
This book opened my eyes to how damaging those who continue to promote diversity and their supposed tolerance are only based on a rejection of basic American ideals.
The rest is merely politics, and so much is invested in it at all levels of our life that it's likely to be with us a long time. You can earn college degrees in it; every corporation must have an officer "in charge of." etc.
But as Mr. Wood says, we are all more alike than we are different, but diversity principles makes of us a salad bowl rather than a melting pot. I can't recall if he mentions it, but the push for everyone to learn and speak a foreign language could mean we are to turn ourselves into a Tower of Babel as well.
There is so little questioning today of Liberal ruses, as it's only in the last 10 years that such books could even find a publisher!
So read this one; you will be smarter for having done so.