The spectrum of differences about which human experience diverges has been a source of disagreement and suffering for a long time. Historically speaking, many differences have been a source of oppression and enslavement from one community to another - men over women, white over black, rich over poor, etc.  

Given the intensity and pain of that history, there is little wonder that diversity remains a source of frequent attention and conversation in America. What conversation-about-diversity would be most helpful to have is another source of intense disagreement. For progressives, the ideal conversation about diversity looks quite different than for conservatives.

Whereas liberal-leaning voices tend to emphasize diversity as a priority subject, conservatives tend to ask whether or not we are overlooking a common humanity or other ideas that may unite human beings. Whereas liberal-leaning citizens tend to see human differences as connected to larger structures of Race, Class, Gender, Patriarchy that demand institutional changes - conservatives tend to not see these structures as real entities at all (nor institutional change as a requirement).  Whereas liberal-leaning communities see a respect and appreciation for diversity as an end in itself, conservative communities tend to see such respect as a means to a greater end - and not something to embrace as an unmitigated good.



Heidi Weaver-Smith

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