Sunday, January 18, 2009

Diversity? (Jessica Johnson)

Each of these millions of people has come to Washington to witness an "historic event" -- the inauguration of the first African American president. Because of this incredible shift in America's history, diversity has become a major topic of discussion, and I think people are beginning to realize how important it is. In addition, diversity doesn't just deal with race but must also include gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

One of the reasons diversity is so important is the fact that people with different backgrounds think, act, and respond to situation in different ways. Genovese admits this and uses FDR as an example. Because he faced such a significant challenge early in his life with polio, he was able to respond to the challenges faced as president much more calmly and efficiently than he might have otherwise. I think most of us are hoping that President-Elect Obama's obvious differences from past presidents will allow him to govern more effectively.

I realize that we were told at the beginning of the seminar to keep our minds open on the diversity question, realizing that there are many types of diversity. But after attending the entire seminar, I wasn't convinced. Out of the dozens of speakers, only a handful were not older, white, straight, able, and fairly rich men. During such an important moment of diversity in our country's history, it seems imperative to have a diverse group of people give us their perspectives on the presidency, the media, and what Obama will bring. Political Science as a field of study has been dominated by white men, and it is time to realize that there might be different, perhaps better, theories about the way government works coming from others with different backgrounds and challenges. Honestly, I was sincerely disappointed with the lack of diversity in The Washington Center's programming.

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