Trouble With Diversity Analysis
• WBM’s Problematic: How has the meaning and use of Diversity in the US shifted
historically under Neoliberalism?
Three main features of the book:
(1) Critique ideas around biological essentialism;
(2) Demonstrate that “focus on ‘culture’ distracts from political-economic differences
that we are less comfortable with, such as why some of us are much wealthier than
others, or far less educated.”
(3) Trying to shift the focus from cultural diversity to economic equality with the hope
that it will eventually lead to something more fair and just (and diverse).
• Argument A: Emphasis on Diversity has distracted from fundamental forms of inequality
rooted in income and wealth inequality, disproportionately effecting women and people
Problem of liberals celebrating diversity instead of pressuring elites to give up structural
privileges that preserve wealth for the very few.
• Argument B: Antiracism is necessary for combatting discrimination, but it does not
conflict with the goal of free markets/neoliberalism--and is even being used as a sales
pitch by corporations, universities, and politicians.
There is a market for it. Diversity consultants. Anti-labor corps insist on it.
Argues that markets (and free marketers--Friedman, Becker) want diversity of religion,
ethnicity, race, gender, etc.—for immigration, a broader consumer base, and workplace
• Capitalism: long history of using Racism as means of exploitation. Colonialism, for
example, was not possible without a massive commitment to European-American White
• Neoliberal capitalism relies on internationalization –immigration, free trade, importing
workers from other parts of the world, and producing massive multi-racial or multi-
national workforces. • Prior to 1965, immigration was based on race (“nationality” - Irish, Italian, etc.). Now
immigration based on workforce needs. In high tech, this enables downward pressure
on wages of skilled workers (e.g. Gates).
• Silicon Valley decried the Muslim ban on the basis of ”American values,” but they did it
because it radically affected their ability to hire guestworkers.
• United Colors of Benetton
o Benetton at the center of the Rana Plaza disaster—a sweatshop/factory building
in Bangladesh—and home to the worst ever industrial incident in the garment
industry. On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building came crashing down, killing
1,134 people and leaving thousands more injured, including harrowing stories of
people amputating their own limbs in order to be freed from the rubble. The
collapse of Rana Plaza brought worldwide attention to deathtrap workplaces
within the garment industry. Benetton did not help compensate victims until
protests and extreme pressure.
o In Argentina: Benetton owns giant amount of land in the country, one of its
largest private landowners. It bought the land in 1991, during the vast sell off of
the country’s wealth to transnational corporations. The family has major
governmental influence in the region and is directly tied to efforts to displace
Mapuche, and misrepresent them in museums.
o Long known for its emphasis on Diversity in its advertisements (1980s, cutting
edge). But also known for producing its product in sweatshop conditions.
o New Benetton ads: disabled German model Mario Galla, Brazilian transgender
model Lea T, and so on. Benetton says that they were chosen for their “multi-
culturality, cosmopolitan spirit and social commitment” in a “fight against hate
and discrimination in all its forms.”
• Argument C: Because of the intersection of poverty and race, due to the nation’s history
of racism and disenfranchisement of people of color, a focus on class would help
address racial and ethnic disparities in all institutions: Housing, Education, Poverty,
Health Care, Employment. • Increased public investment across the board would also strengthen institutions in
charge of cultivating tolerance—i.e., Schools.
• Example: Clinton was for free trade, and positioned as candidate for women and people
of color. But most workers negatively affected by free trade agreements are women and
people of color.
• Example: Clinton was for a $12 minimum wage, and was positioned as candidate for
women and people of color. Sanders was for a $15 min wage, but was “the old white
man from the White state of Vermont.”