I miss that old time diversity. Baby Boomers would call it legacy diversity. It was what the Civil Rights movement was founded on. It encompassed differences like race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality and religion.
Legacy diversity has been replaced by experiential and thought diversity.
Experiential diversity embodies our social identities. Things like our life history, our work and our overall life experiences. Generational diversity is an offshoot of experiential diversity. This type of diversity has been embraced by Millennials.
Rounding out the diversity trifecta is thought diversity. The notion that our diverse thoughts and life experiences can connect in ways that reveal new insights, spur creativity and enable innovation.
I am not saying that experiential and thought diversity are not important. What I am arguing is you cannot have experiential and thought diversity without achieving legacy diversity first.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree. If he was still living I think he would ask the question if overt inequality is dead thanks to experiential and thought diversity, then why is there still inequality. The answer is simple. We have moved on to experiential and thought diversity without meeting the goals of legacy diversity.
This new era of diversity has been ushered in by multi-racial Millennials and Gen Z’ers who deny that racism exists in the post-racial era of President Obama. They have ignored the unfinished work of Dr. King’s legacy diversity and embraced colorblindness through experiential and thought diversity.
We have focused on individual characteristics of people through experiential and thought diversity without confronting offensive behavior identified through legacy diversity. We have championed the celebration of differences via experiential and thought diversity and avoided the fight for justice and the abolition of discrimination that legacy diversity demands.
We may be diverse but we are far from inclusive.
Give me that old time diversity; it’s good enough for me.