Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Profile of Diversity...

Mr. Atos

Today's front page of the Portland Oregonian declares, Oregon creeps up on America's diversity scale,
Nonwhites - The numbers rise nationwide and are up 2 percentage points in the Northwest

Oregon inched ahead of Kansas in diversity between 2000 and 2005, new Census Bureau data indicate, edging out the Sunflower State for 31st in the nation when it comes to the percentage of nonwhites in its population.

Mid-decade, increased diversity is the theme song of U. S. demographics, with nonwhites growing as a share of the population in every state but West Virginia. Oregon and Washington are following, but not gaining much ground.

Between 2000 and 2005, Oregon's and Washington's nonwhite populations both grew about 2 percentage points, Washington's to 23 percent and Oregon's to about 18.5 percent.

So, beyond the Demographic statistics, why should this be important to Oregonians?

Marleth Roman, a Latina businesswoman, can take some credit for that. She arrived in Beaverton after the 2000 Census, then moved to Hillsboro in 2001, where the Census Bureau's American Community Survey released today estimates the Hispanic population grew by roughly a third in the past five years...

In that neighborhood, Roman feels like an essential part of Hillsboro. She caters to the Spanish-speaking community in their native language, understands when some customers can't read or write and at times, even lets some pay for clothes in installments. But beyond the strip, the rest of Hillsboro -- the non-Latino community -- still feels foreign, Roman said...

So the merit of diversity, by the tone of this story, is nothing more than a statistical recognition of ethnic characteristics?! (ie. skin color and cultural idiocyncracies) Is that truly the measure of the virtue of 'diversity?' It goes on,

Martin Gonzalez, executive director of the Portland Schools Alliance, moved to Portland from Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1987. "It was tough, because if I went to Safeway back then, there was less than a handful of Latino families shopping there," he said.

Today, the supermarket aisles at Gonzalez's Safeway in Northeast Portland are full of Latino families. And more and more Latino parents participating in their children's schools. Gonzalez continues to notice Oregon's diversity deficit on downtown Portland's streets and in leadership circles.

"There has been a change, but it's most visible in the neighborhoods," he said. Today, the lack of diversity "is much more noticeable at the professional level. People see a glass ceiling in terms of how high you rise up."

Nearly 40 years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., we find his words meaning even far less to those who lay claim his legacy now than they did to the most ardent segregationists then. Weeks ago, Nigel Jaquiss, writing for the Willamette Week, noted that Portland has become nothing more than a 'liberal echo chamber.' No diversity of politics, ideology, means a veritable hegemony of philosophy, expression and thought. And yet, the Oregonian ardently suggests there to be an increase in meaningful ‘diversity’ in Portland. So what is that supposed to mean to us, living here in the echo chamber? ... More blacks and latinos sharing bad schools, high taxes, and innane public representation? So what?

Eternally obsessed with the color of a Man’s skin, the so-called Progressives clearly value physical appearance infinitely more than the content of one’s character. The Progressive idea of diversity, I submit to you now, is really nothing more than ethnic profiling...

... at its worst.

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