Representing Diversity

If America is a land of immigrants characterized by “diversity,” how do we represent ourselves to ourselves?

1955 camera advertisment

Prior to the 1960s, Americans were represented in advertising and the popular media as white, without shame or self-consciousness. After that, a black presence came to be increasingly obligatory, often in the form of a single black person added to an otherwise white group. This was normally done with the very best of intentions, though in doing so whites would often find themselves then accused of “tokenism.” Does anyone remember the character Franklin in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts?

Now, all bets are off. One thing we can be sure of is that to portray an all-white group of people is to open oneself to the charge of “racism” by advocates for various non-white ethnic groups, and by whites themselves. Such was the case when Vanity Fair recently ran a photo feature on actresses it deemed the “fresh faces” of Hollywood, and daringly (or doltishly) failed to include any women of “color” in the lineup:

Most Americans seem to accept the “diversity” presented to them on the walls of Kroger, Wal-Mart, and Target and on numerous pamphlets by government agencies and insurance companies, not to mention the majority of TV advertisements, as a positive thing. I used to feel this way myself, back when the “minority” population of the United States was still only 15% or so, and I hadn’t realized that it was growing at rates that would eventually make minorities the majority. When I noticed, for example, how judges were being represented all out of proportion to reality as black and female, my thought was something like: “This may not reflect reality, but it shows black people that we welcome them in these roles, and it represents an ideal we all aspire to.” I suppose many people think similar things today about the far more advanced ideal of diversity that reigns today, especially since the minorities really are growing very strong in numbers and, seemingly, can’t be ignored.

I no longer think, though, that the ideal of “diversity” is positive, or even harmless. The reason is that to put the ideal in visual or artistic form requires the suppression of the deep, enduring differences between the various ethnic groups in America today and the relentless conflicts, trauma, and expense associated with their co-existence in the same society. These differences and conflicts will only continue to grow with the ongoing transformation of America into a white-minority society. No one taking any account of trends in social ills like crime, terrorism, and illegitimacy, or of the increasing dysfunction of our educational and political institutions, can deny that “diversity” has extracted a serious toll on our national well-being.

In any event, the ideal of diversity is manifested in some peculiar and inconsistent ways in the media. It can be amusing to note some of the practices that have emerged. To name a few:

1) Local news anchors. Where I live, the combination of one black man and one white woman, or one black woman and one white man, has long been virtually de rigeur. (In CNN and other national media outlets, Hispanic and even Asian and Indian ethnicities are increasingly represented, and this has trickled down to the local level to an extent.) Black people might find “tokenism” objectionable, but when the total number of the group is only two, the requirement that one be black is disproportionately empowering.

2) The light-skinned or biracial black woman, often with the unthreateningly frizzy hair. Only a minority of black women look like this in real life, but you wouldn’t know this from advertisements.

3) The figure clearly intended to be identified as Hispanic, who simultaneously looks so “white” that you could never prove that intention. In reality, most Hispanics here in the U.S. are clearly identifiable as Mestizo or Amerindian. One way acceptance of “Hispanic-ness” is being foisted on us is by surrounding us with images of lots of tannish-looking people who are plausibly white. Didn’t Americans always look like this? Well…no. By the way, my wife says that the “nude” color for women’s underclothing in the U.S. has become noticeably tanner in recent years.

4) Images of people of certain ethnic groups in roles clearly contradicting our image of those groups in real life. There is a very amusing poster at my local YMCA showing three children or youths performing physical activities. There is a black boy swimming, an Asian boy playing basketball, and an Asian girl lifting weights. Each one is doing precisely the thing you’d expect him to be poor at. Incidentally there is no white person present at all.

5) The panel, ensemble, or other group, of which each member comes from a different ethnic group. An example would be the early lineup of “The View,” with a black, white, Jewish, and Asian member (there seems not to be an Asian in the current lineup). Or, consider the quartet of musicians who played at the Obama inauguration: Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, Itzhak Perlman, and Anthony McGill. Wonderful musicians; I begrudge them nothing. But I do remember someone at the National Review writing something like “Do you suppose they were picked for their ethnicity? I sure hope not!” OF COURSE they were chosen for their ethnicity.

The reader will certainly be able to think of other permutations.

Informally enforced diversity in advertising and the media may only be a minor issue for most people: at times unnoticeable, at times annoying, at times amusing. But it reflects a deeply oppressive power at work that forces us to constantly think about all the “others” in our society, something which I believe affects our ability to simply be ourselves and, on that basis, to live the best lives we can and to create the best society we can. Lawrence Auster put it well in his pamphlet The Path to National Suicide, when he discussed the future of art in a multicultural society:

As the image of our civilization, as expressed in the arts and literature, changes to a multiracial, multicultural image, what kind of art will result? Movies and plays, instead of portraying the relationships of individuals within a community or family, as drama has done time out of mind, must focus self-consciously on race relations. Established literary works that have formed a living bridge between one generation of Americans and the next will fall into oblivion, to be replaced by works on minority, Hispanic and Asian issues. The religious paintings of the multiculturalist society, instead of portraying a group of individuals chosen from the artists’ imagination, would follow a statistical formula; the figures gathered around the Christ child would have to be x percent brown, x percent black, yellow, white and so on, all chosen on the basis of racial balance rather than their individual character. Diversity would so overwhelm unity that the idea of diversity within unity would be lost.

Though it may be easier to go with the flow, I can’t accept the culture we Americans are now being presented with. It all starts with immigration, and though it may seem that the “horse is out of the barn” with respect to Hispanic and other non-European immigration, we must continue to resist this colonization of the United States which now continues clearly for the benefit of the groups coming in, not those already here. And whatever the results may be, we traditional Americans are going to have to find a way to live in our own society so we can be ourselves. It starts with refusing to accept the status quo, and challenging it wherever and however we can.

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11 Responses to Representing Diversity

  1. thewhitechrist says:

    Bravo!

    As I have noted, the color of the icon determines the faith of the People.
    http://thewhitechrist.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/the-color-of-icons/

    Now, that is a purely RELIGIOUS idea. But the secular counterpart is the same. Why do we say, “A PICTURE is worth a thousand words?” Because it is TRUE. When we SEE Negro Judges, Negro Lawyers, Negro Presidents (oops!) in our films, our print media, our very ICONIC representations of REALITY, we soon believe that ‘Yes, we can’ when it has been demonstrably proven, time and time again, that “No, THEY can’t” – that is, have the intellectual rigor, studious acumen, and moral stability to take on leadership positions. The fact that His Obamaness is HALF-White NEVER enters into ANY discussion as to why he was even ABLE to garner the TRUST of the White Voting Majority (the ‘thinking majority?- no wait, I’m talking about liberals….) to vote him in!

    We now see he’s only as good as his teleprompter. But what does that say of the CONTINUED iconic FALSITY that is going on around us, from children’s books to Vanity Fair pictures of a Big Black Basketball player, holding a squealing Blond Bombshell in an Evening dress? It tells us that we are being MANIPULATED. That’s what it tells us.

    SO, kudos to you for this article. It paints a picture of TRUTH, in an era of ‘What is, ‘is’? mentalities.

  2. Ice People says:

    Second the motion. I’ve become painfully conscious of these ads and they disgust me. And I can’t get away from them, everywhere I go I have this diversity shoved down my throat.

  3. Dr.D says:

    I recall quite a few years ago first hearing the idea expressed that “biological diversity is a strength,” the idea that this is a survival mechanism in nature. This idea was quickly extrapolated into the social sphere on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, just that “it must be true there as well.” Nonsense!

    In society, diversity is not an advantage, but is much more similar to an infection, a site of on-going internal conflict and disintegration. By far the most stable, happy societies have been those that had highly homogeneous populations. In the recent past (but not today), the Scandinavian countries have had this sort of happy, homogeneous society, and they prospered greatly under it. Today they are wracked with unassimilable immigrants from the far corners of the earth and it is tearing them to bits.

    In the US, there are several aspects to the increased presence of minorities in TV, movies, etc. These are (1) greatly increased numbers, (2) leadership roles, so that the minorities are now the doctor, the judge, the teacher, etc., (3) suppression of White people in numbers, and (4) degradation of roles of White people to the roles of the criminal, the goof-off, the bumbler, the abuser, the drunk, wife-beater, etc. Thus we have a complete inversion of reality, because in reality far larger numbers of minorities are criminals, abusers, drunks, etc, while far larger numbers of Whites are doctors, judges, teachers, etc. But the truth is not the narrative that the Left wishes to present, so they turn things upside down and show it in inverted form. This is not simply a matter of inspiring minorities to do well, but it is a positive put down to the White population who keep this country going.

  4. stephenhopewell says:

    Thanks, all. Thewhitechrist (I wish you had a less intense nickname), well, of course some black people can be competent judges, etc., though those numbers would be probably be considerably smaller than their proportion of the population. Regardless, the good-hearted “affirmative action” has unleashed destructive forces that need to be fought against. Dr.D, the effect is indeed as you describe. A significant portion of it is unconscious, I think. You avoid portraying a black guy as the villain, so you make a white guy the villain, though you didn’t start out with an intention to put whites down. But the effect is indistinguishable from what such an intention would create.

  5. Vanishing American says:

    Hello all.
    Good post, Stephen, and good comments.
    I’ve noticed the trends alluded to for some time, as have we all. But I finally (belatedly) realized there is something more to it than the ‘providing positive role models’ for minorities, as is usually assumed.
    A year or so ago, I noticed that ”diversity” was now being artificially injected into Country music, which has heretofore been a White style of music. There were suddenly black ‘crossover’ acts and a ‘diverse’ tone to Country music award shows — plus of course commercials on Country Music Television with black actors. Now are these commercials aimed at the (non-existent) black viewers of CMT? That would seem a waste of advertising dollars. It finally occurred to me that the target of the advertising is Whites. It’s meant to further accustom us to the presence of ”diversity” in every realm of life, and to remind us that we can’t have a form of entertainment just for us. Blacks of course have BET and other programming, plus a growing presence in the media everywhere, but Whites cannot have anything that is not ‘diverse’. ”This is the new reality”, seems to be the message, and the message is aimed at us. We’re the main targets of the propaganda. ”You are surrounded; give up” is the implicit message.
    -VA

  6. Australian TV has gone a different way. The faces on TV here are still overwhelmingly Anglo, despite the huge demographic changes. It’s as if the political class wants to prolong for as long as possible a fantasy world populated by trendy, middle-class, paternalistic, liberal Anglos. But I can’t see it lasting – one day they’re going to have to give it up. Can you really have 95% Anglos on TV when the population reaches, say, 50% Asian? I always get the sense that I am watching a doomed world play itself out unknowingly as if it were something eternal.

  7. Liam says:

    There’s an example below of what Vanishing American is talking about, namely how any white institution or milieu must diversify on pain of death.

    Be warned the Independent is a crazed leftist rag that makes the Guardian look sane.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/all-white-on-the-night-why-does-the-worldfamous-vienna-philharmonic-feature-so-few-women-and-ethnic-minorities-1915666.html

  8. Dr.D says:

    I read the article that Liam has directed us to, and I did not find it particularly distressing at all. It describes an organization with standards, what a refreshing thought! We really need to get over the idea of letting others define what we ought to be, how we ought to acting, think, and be. The VPO is doing just this; they are holding to their own standards, and telling the PC world “too bad.”

  9. Liam says:

    I agree Dr D. I probably did not express myself very well in introducing the article.

    What got my attention was the outrage of the writer that the VPO should dare to defy the false gods of diversity.

    I hope it can continue to do so.

  10. Stephen Hopewell says:

    VA, thank you. The meaning and cause of a mentality that sees any all-white group is bad is something I keep trying to grasp. It is definitely no longer the “benevolence” that used to be the motive (at least in people’s conscious minds) when they felt good about “accepting” Jackie Robinson or black friends. I have heard stories of academic departments falling over themselves to try to hire a black faculty member, who had his pick of the whole field. There is not a conscious sense of hostility to whites, but there is often a hostility to imagined “racist” whites (no one has ever been able to produce a live specimen).

    It is sad to see the trends you describe in country music, NASCAR, and the few other cultural activities that have not become diverse. (By the way, didn’t Charley Pride do just fine in country music?)

    Mark, it’s interesting that Australian TV remains so European. I suppose the historical circumstances are different and the new groups in Australia just haven’t made their way into TV much, but I’m sure there will be rapid changes if nothing happens to reverse the immigration trends.

    My impression of British TV was that it is often extremely white by default, sometimes aggressively diverse.

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