Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The "Cost" of Diversity

We use the word “diversity” and when we use a word we are packing up some concept as a thing. We can put that thing on a shelf and analyze it, talk about it, and use it like a hammer when we find a nail. Diversity, in this way, is defined as something other than the natural order. That is the result of labelling something: we define it as something that needs pointed out as distinct from the normal assumptions. Not that it is positioned as bad but we conceptualize things as the normal every day we’re used to and then diversify as this extra step we can take.

Diversity is an added step.
Diversity is optional.
You should take this extra step, of course, but it isn’t inherent.
But, here is where I’m finding I might disagree with the way we use this language because...

Diversity is inherent.

We live in a world reaching seven billion people and we are nothing close to  homogenous. The human race is colorful and varied and constantly surprising. You will never meet every kind of person there is in this world, no matter how hard you try. You will never have the opportunity to work with every viewpoint and understand the vast possibilities of perspectives on life and love and work and happiness. The people of the world are more diverse than we can ever really conceptualize.

Yet, you look around you and the people you see are more likely than not more like you than different from you. In ways both conscious and non, ways both purposeful and accidental, we have crafted communities, towns, circles of friends, and entire civilizations to weed out the diversity inherent in our species. In the darkest of times we have eradicated it with a prejudice usually only reserved for disease and rodents.

If you look around yourself and see a lack of diversity, this is not normal. This is not the normal way humans exist. This was centuries and beyond of calculated and meaningful separation.

The next time you hear something, even yourself, contemplating the “cost of diversity” please take a step back and ask yourself first: what have we already paid to remove the diversity before me and is any cost to restore our spectrum even comparable?

Diversity does not cost. Diversity was the cost of our society. We have a debt to pay.

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I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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