Diversity is a thematic concern that has always played an active role in making individuals across the globe to understand, tolerate and share with each other whatever unique abilities and ideas they have in order to achieve the American dream. Generally, cultural diversity is viewed as a good idea and this can be well understood through aspects such as national cohesion and togetherness in all endeavors. However, Walter Ben Michaels in his article The Trouble with Diversity claims that cultural differences have brought more suffering compared to the positive impacts that individuals expect from it. Michael argues that cultural diversity obscures radical problems brought about by aspects of economic inequality.
From the article, it can be seen that diversity alongside its associated corollaries of race, identity, culture, and difference are the key factors that distract the American citizens from achieving their number one dream that defines them all. This can well be understood by the notion that diversity brings about the gap that exists between the poor and the rich people. Diversity can also be understood through race. In the current world, people believe that the difference in race should be viewed with a positive mind that it exists and therefore the human race has no option but to embrace the diversity as it is. Michael, on the other hand, attacks the phantasms of culture and race.
Many believe that race does not really exist and that everyone should just ignore it and work in unison. In this same way, Michaels claims that cultural diversity does not really exist. “The problem with culture … is that it’s utterly dependent on race. We can only say what counts as white or black or Jewish culture if we already know who the whites and blacks and Jews are” (Michaels 32). From this, we can say that Michael views diversity as a mirage of culture. “We like the idea of cultural equality better than we like the idea of economic equality (and we like the idea of culture wars much better than we like the idea of class wars)” (Michaels 33).
In other words, what the author tries to say is that people are not affected or concerned when it comes to embracing cultural equality because it costs them nothing. However, they become bitter when they are faced with the same diversity when it comes to wealth redistribution in such a manner that some people end up getting more wealth than the others. This is evident from an example he gives where he states that most of the students in Harvard University are coming from families that are earning a hundred thousand dollars a year. Anyway, in as much as Michaels could be so convincing with his argument, there is a lot that he still fails to explain. In other words, the author fails to tell the readers about what really counts for culture.
This can be seen from the fact that he fails to distinguish between the understanding of culture as a race, language, locality or community and the rhetoric that revolve around the diversity of the very cultures. Furthermore, he fails to lay out the connection that underlies the economic disenfranchisement and the negative aspects of cultural diversity. A good example is as observed with the Indians who were denied the right to embrace their culture and language and forced to go to school but how do they react in return? They don’t fail to subscribe to the programs of the rich but rather define their own by recapturing economic and cultural self-sufficiency. All in all, Michael is right because it is very evident that cultural diversity is a tool that the rich use to obscure the dangerous inequalities of the economy. “The trouble with diversity, then, is not just that it won’t solve the problem of economic inequality; it’s that it makes it hard for us even to see the problem” (Michaels 45).
- Michaels, Walter Benn. The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality. Macmillan, 2016.