Understanding the Balance Between Diversity and Integration By: Garrett Young II

Balance between diversity and integration:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its report on discrimination and retaliation claims filed in 2018. While the total number of charges filed dropped slightly, overall, among the categories of national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, equal pay, etc., race discrimination remains the most commonly named in the charges filed since 2012 at 36.0% of all claims represented. It is equally important to note that there was an increase in retaliation claims filed in 2014. These are claims made following the original claim that was made, aimed at the position that often describes adverse actions taken by the employer and or its representatives against an employee once they made their initial claim of discrimination (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2019).

Moreover, the use of deadly force by police officers across the nation has increased. That is, the number of fatal shootings by officers increased from 465 in the first six months of last year (2018) to 491 for the same period in 2019, according to an ongoing two-year study by The Washington Post. This year has also seen more officers shot and killed in the line of duty and more officers prosecuted for questionable shootings (Washington Post, 2019).

Regardless of what one may consider to be the validity of these claims, the fact remains that when claims are made, the resources of organizations to address these claims as well as the adverse impacts on organizational behavior, society, culture, individual/groups perception and ones views on the balance “between diversity and integration” in America is substantively impacted in a negative way. Moreover, there is adverse impact to the reputations/organizational brand identity of organizations as they work to defend the above claims which lends itself to public trust being lost. In the end, organizations suffer and the diverse members of our society are adversely impacted, as they work to discern for themselves from the validity of the claims made, as the accused individuals deny that they have taken negative actions based upon race or stereotypes in the face of video that indicates otherwise.

In my view, for any positive change to occur relative to balancing between diversity and integration in America, the management or managing of diversity must be become a daily working process for all with the two concepts integrated into the fabric of American life. There must be a movement away from relativism, as in many regards, the concept is destructive because it ignores truth and aligns more toward a reality in which there are many diverse beliefs of which there is no right or wrong answer. In the end this is nothing but pluralism at heart.

Limits of diversity and integration:

From an experiential, diversity of limitations/integration standpoint, many blacks in America maintain that white Americans in large numbers continue to project racist views toward them. A technical classification of the phrase “project racist views toward them” could also be defined within the application of the black inferiority myth. That is, the projection of racist views toward blacks is often determined by what one learns and internalizes as truth overtime. Cooper suggests that America’s true history of racism and beliefs in the black inferiority myth detrimentally effects the present racial interpersonal interactions today (Cooper, 1995). “The historical and current expectations of racism and oppressions in the United States make minorities feel culturally different and inferior. The past has a major impact on the present” (Cooper, 1995, p.37). Moreover, albeit the following comparison is religion versus race based, there is a degree reference to consider with the (Cooper, 1995) example, with the current views of banning some Muslims from entering into the United States today.

According to some or perhaps most Americans, diversity and the related applications of truth specific to discrimination is a reality or world view created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences, that may not be in fact true, but rather ones perception. In contrast, from a personal view, diversity is key and important in order to support and protect individuals and groups from prejudice. More directly, diversity focuses on the “informal organization or culture”. That is, the components of the environment that are hidden and oriented toward social/psychological behavior considerations such as personal views, individual competencies, interpersonal group relationships, group sentiments, group norms, perceptions, trust, risks taking and emotions. These elements ultimately impact social engagement either positively or negatively thereby, limiting diversity and integration:

For example, when I was entering the 1st grade, my father earned a promotion with his company and moved the family to Indianapolis, Indiana. I remember telling my mom that the people were different in Indianapolis. The people looked different and they interacted differently. This was my first experience of what I would define as racism. The neighborhood was mostly White. The kids did not come over to play, like the kids did in Albuquerque. When I would go to their house to ask if they could play, I was told they couldn’t come out. A month later, the neighborhood started to become more diverse/integrated.

Rouse states, “Integration is the act of bringing together smaller components into a single system that functions as one”. This is meaningful when you live in an area that wants to be separate from the singular community. What made the community more diverse were the 3 white families that moved out and 3 Black families that moved in. Those changes occurred because the neighborhood was progressing regarding diversity/integration/inclusion. Behind this was a wall of racism, because some groups of people have a problem with diversity, they run away and in the hopes of “getting away” from those integrated neighborhoods.

Cultural relativism aligned to diversity:

Understanding the content above, brings up the related topic of cultural relativism which asserts the principle that people should not judge the behavior of others using the standards of their own culture, and that each culture must be analyzed on its own terms. With this, “there is no single true morality. By definition, this view opens the door to tolerating greater diversity of any kind because standards that cannot be judged by a central standard of truth cannot contradict one another in the same direct way that literal statements can” (Hinman, 1998). This view makes for a dangerous precedent thereby, allowing one to disregard the realities of truth and governing standards of conduct.

Why? Many white Americans have not been a part of the same environmental and social experiences as blacks. Admittedly, there are varying degrees of participation by some whites within the noted environmental and social experiences with blacks nevertheless, the broad implication is that most whites understand racism and experience the world, from a differing paradigm or an individualistic white or Anglo Saxon paradigm they exist within. While many whites, particularly within the work environment have participated in varying diversity training programs, the fact remains that racism is interpreted and understood by many whites from an external environmental individualistic level and viewpoint. That is, a perspective of understanding that is beyond and not within their cultural environment as some whites define it. As a result, for many whites, white racial thinking approaches or engages blacks with ambivalence. That is, a simultaneous and contradictory process of thinking that holds attitudes and feelings of attraction and repulsion toward blacks simultaneously. In a more directed way, “… the average white American is ambivalent toward African Americans, sometimes feeling animosity or racism, other times feeling quite friendly, and sometimes holding contradictory sentiments all at once” (Entman, Rojecki, 2000, p. 46). Whites tend to disguise their true feelings, understanding the social undesirability of appearing racist” (Entman, Rojecki, 2000). This action is an example and aligns with American cultural relativism and diversity.

Merits of diversity and integration:

I was born in Albuquerque, NM. We lived in a diverse area by ethnicity and culture. I grew up with Whites, Hispanics, Native American’s and African Americans. While most of my family members are African American, our family friends were of differing backgrounds. Those conditions allowed me to gain knowledge and interact with cultures that was different from my own. Other ways I was able to gain knowledge is through activities at Eastern Oregon University (EOU).

My experience with the (EOU), Black Student Union, has encouraged me to lead planning teams and work in partnership with the university community in many capacities to include the development of long range plans that were aimed at services and programs that provided impact and value specific to student life on campus. We were exposed to different life experiences, culture, ethnicity and interest. By being exposed to these different conditions I was able to gain applicable knowledge that has led me to a better grasp on diversity and integration.

Moreover, through my past experiences on my university’s campus, multiculturalism has been reflected within the communities and culture on campus. An example of this can be reflected by the amount of foreign exchange students that attend my previous university. Being a Resident Assistant, (RA) gave me the opportunity to communicate and work closely with students with different backgrounds and race, culture or religious background.

An example of the merits of diversity and integration on campus occurred at an event called the Pau Hanna Dance. This was a Hawaiian themed dance that gave residents the opportunity to have fun and interact with others. After receiving some negative comments from some of my residents, I decided to check in with them. These residents identify as Hawaiian, the comment I received was the event was insulting because it did not represent their community well. This “hits home” because Reslife was unknowingly taking part in cultural appropriation by taking part in those events.

In closing, balance between diversity and integration continues to be a perplexing question for our American culture. The added dynamic of pluralism and relativism adds to the ongoing ambiguity, That is, operationally, under the context of disguising negative racial views by some whites, may it be consciously applied or subconsciously applied, some whites of this era rarely would express they have discriminated toward blacks on an individual level. Nor would they express that institutions are discriminatory in an expansive way. “A large majority of whites seem to tilt toward denial ….” (Entman, Rojecki, 2000, p. 46). What many whites cite are examples of racism that is defined in the past tense—meaning, we have developed beyond the racialization as a society or they speak in terms of reverse racism, such as the case as many whites view affirmative action. While not the sole issue, this differing understanding of the issue of discrimination and its application to the black reality works to sustain distrust between blacks and whites in our modern day. That is, many blacks live, understand and experience racial discrimination often directed from whites however, whites deny the reality. The result is distrust.

References are available upon request!

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