Scrubbing diversity


Diversity is perhaps the largest single element in our society.  We have, as a nation, welcomed immigrants for every nation on earth and our diversity has made us the strong nation we are now — in spite of the temporary national insanity known otherwise as the Trump Administration. As a nation we have struggled for well over 100 years to achieve a society in which color and creed do not matter — and while we had a long way yet to go in November of 2016, we have an even longer way to go now.

Consider the attitude of Ryan Zinke:

(CNN)“Diversity isn’t important.” Sources have told CNN that those words (and others like them) were uttered by Ryan Zinke, the secretary of one of the departments in the federal government, a bureau comprised of approximately 70,000 employees throughout the country.

These statements would be appalling coming from anyone working in the federal government (or anyone else, for that matter), but it’s particularly harmful to consider them coming from the person charged with protecting the federal land and parks that all Americans are supposed to enjoy. CNN quoted three high-ranking officials who claim Zinke also said, “I don’t care about diversity,” and “I don’t really think that’s important anymore.” A spokesperson from the Department of the Interior has denied Zinke made the statements, the reports of which come at a time when the Inspector General and Office of Special Counsel are investigating his reassignment of department executives — many of whom happen to be people of color..

CNN – Scrubbing Diversity

He may not care about diversity, but a great many other people do. And for good reason. There remain significant hurdles to our nations resources being utilized by all it’s citizens.  Consider for one point the utilization of the National Parks.  I wrote numerous times about the fact that one of the side effects of being a full time RV’er was that we actually experienced LESS diversity as an RV’er than we did when we lived in Sticks & Bricks.  The vast majority of RV’ers are — middle class and above White Americans.  And focussing for a moment just on those who utilize one singe resource — the National Park System — that is who you see in the national parks:  White Americans.

A 2009 study found that 78 percent of national park visitors were white, while another study from 2014 found that less than one-fourth of national parks and monuments honored people of color, women or LGBT people. 
Making public lands white again: Ryan Zinke’s special brand of environmental racism – Salon.com

It troubled me when we were RV’ing, and when we decided to try settling down in S. Texas one of the things that I liked about that area was that fact that we were actually in the minority as two caucasians;  South Texas is 87% Hispanic.  That’s not great diversity — not when that large of a percentage is a single ethinic mix — but it was more acceptable to us than perpetuating the overly White experience we had been having.  We believe in the importance of diversity and the only way to support it is to live it — one way or another.

It’s troubling when political appointees don’t understand the nature of the appointment they are being selected to fill.  The world watched Congressional hearings when Betsy DeVos could not answer basic questions about the U.S. educational system.  People who are not even familiar with what their department does are hardly in a position to troubleshoot and guide it’s direction.  Similarly with Zinke, he has documented meetings with industry lobbyists and corporate leaders but he seems afraid to hold public meetings where he may be questioned — or worse, brought to task for neglecting the mission he was given by those who live and die by the decisions his department implements.

a-mindIgnorance is a terrible thing.  I remember the old ads stating that a “mind is a terrible thing to waste”, but there’s a difference between being ignorant and intentionally ignoring what you know, or what you are tasked to do, and slyly trying to return other people to ignorance by concealing your means and your motives.

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