Sunday, March 30, 2008

Where does class fit in the diversity circle?

I just had a wonderful conversation with colleagues who were adamant that I combine ethnicity and class in this work. One of their concerns was the idea that people talk about class as a way to avoid talking about ethnicity. Given the small amount of talk and writing about class this does not seem to be borne out by the abundant literature on ethnicity and the thin literature on class. While class may be easier to talk about than ethnicity for some people, 'easy alternatives' is no excuse not to deal with hard topics. It may also be easier for some people to talk about class because they really don't know much about class beyond the simple model of income as class.

Similarly, my colleagues asserted that talking about class is a way to avoid talking about whiteness. Similarly, the literature does not bear out their argument. The discussion of ethnicity leads to a discussion of class because of the relation between ethnicity and class. The relationship between class and ethnicity is a different perspective than the relationship between ethnicity and class. A discussion of class, as such, can be a discussion of class. Describing men as men, and not in relation to women, is a similar task. The discussion of class is both related to and separate from the discussion of ethnicity and gender and other forms of diversity. What I set out to do here is to approach social class as something separate from , though related to, other forms of identity.

There are wonderful pieces or writing on ethnicity and on whiteness and on gender and on being an ally and on the international perspectives on class and privilege. Few of them dwell at all on the idea of class.

In the dialog on diversity, where does class fit in the circle?

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