Diversity Consciousness

Published in 2009, this look on the current state of diversity in the world can at times be a bit US-centric but offers in general a good overview on issues of diversity. It intersperses quotes, real-life stories, and background information to help bring to life how challenging diversity can be.

There are so many things that can seem "simple" in life but which can have multiple meanings. People growing up in Texas might think it is normal to do a "horns" symbol with their hand, with the index and pinkie finger pointing up. They might have no idea that in South America this is an accusation of adultery.

A man whose family has been in the US for generations - but who happened to have married within the Asian community - might look to be a "just arrived Japanese person" to a taxi driver. But in reality he is completely and thoroughly American. Just because of the way he looks, assumptions will be made about how well he can speak English and know the culture.

The book talks about how these sorts of issues can continually wear down a person or group. That is called "coping fatigue". It might be fine if the strange behavior in others happened once, or twice. But when it goes on all day long, every day, it affects how the individual handles life.

Some of the stories are quite thought-provoking. In 1995, Joshua Solomon did an experiment. He was a white college student, and he took drugs to turn his skin "black" to see how he would be treated. He flew down to Atlanta, Georgia so he'd be somewhere that nobody knew him. Despite his best attempts to be friendly and natural, he was turned away at restaurants, harassed by police, and warned to stay out of certain areas. It was all simply because of his skin color.

While I read this book for a college course on diversity, I would highly recommend it for anybody who wants to learn more about this world that we live in. For all that we think that we've "come a long way" - we still clearly have a long way to go.

I purchased this book with my own funds.

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