A colleague passed along Timothy Egan's editorial Good Poor, Bad Poor. This piece reviews some of the recent House decisions to cut food programs starting next year and age old arguments about whether aid programs encourage laziness.
While Egan does a nice job of outlining the master narratives surrounding this debate, he misses some of the more marginalized perspectives. For example, while he talks about different views about the origins of poverty he does not interview anyone truly poor.
Sure, he could easily rectify that. Ask a few articulate homeless people about their plight. What if, instead, he quoted people as they spoke? What if he quoted a mentally ill person uttering gibberish? This might make the point far better. It has probably been done.
I'm just pondering what if we made room for not just a diversity of perspectives, but also a diversity in how people speak? A narrative approach to conflict resolution (my focus area) consistently calls into question who gets to speak and the kinds of speaking required. (See the Narrative Center for Conflict Resolution for more info)
When we say "diversity" we often just mean, different races or sexualities. It's cool and very politically correct now to include gays, hispanics, blacks, asians when creating a program or reviewing applicants. Diversity, however, has not yet really expanded to include the mentally ill, drug & sex addicted, incarcerated, sex workers, and unintelligible.
Aren't they part of the society too?
And if we're really committed to diversity ought those voices be legitimatized?
To me, sometimes it feels like it's fine to be hispanic etc. so long as you sound white. The diversity movement hasn't yet evolved to include different ways of being and appreciation of difference.