"A Sprinkling Of Minorities Floating In A Sea Of Young White People"


The yearly gathering of left-wing activists called Netroots Nation is on, but according to one of the attendees who writes for LA Progressive the event was a little too white despite a mandate from organizers that panels be diverse.

That’s right. Mandated diversity.

Although Netroots touts itself as being an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo, judging from the racial make-up of the NN13 attendees, lack of diversity is one status quo that didn’t seem to be challenged enough.

It’s important to acknowledge that Netroots Nation instituted a policy requiring all panels to be diverse. In full disclosure, I was a member of the panel selection committee. As we prepared to make our selections, we were instructed to dismiss any panel that was comprised entirely of white males…

“Good idea,” snarks Jim Treacher about that last comment. “Everybody knows that people with the same skin color are all alike, and people of the same gender are all alike.”

We can laugh, but isn’t there something more than a little offensive in the idea of mandating gender and skin color diversity on panels? Isn’t there an assumption, inherent in that policy, that people of the same skin color and/or gender all think the same way? And how is that stereotype any less offensive than, say, just assuming that all Asian people are bad at driving? Or assuming that all black people are criminal?

Obviously, an event like Netroots Nation should strive for a melting pot of ideas and perspectives (within the larger liberal/progressive ideology, naturally), but it’s strange to the point of being offensive to think that diversity of thought can be created through diversity of gender/skin color. Because implicit in that is the idea that all people of a certain skin color/gender think the same.

The Democrats do the same thing for their national convention. The 2012 DNC delegate selection manual mandated racial quotas for delegates and state party representatives.

I’m wondering how mandating inclusion because of skin color or gender is any better than mandating exclusion because of skin color or gender.