An About-Face on Diversity

connieredAfter denouncing diversity and multiculturalism for years, it appears that Connie Chastain and several of her commenters (including one who seems rather afraid to reveal his identity) are now in favor of it. Indeed, over the last week there’s been a tidal wave of tirades over at cacklin’ Connie’s blog, in which I’m taken to task for various institutional hiring practices not in my purview (it is now conceded that ASU has a fairly diverse student body).

I think this is all to the good. We certainly can support this turnabout in favor of toleration and equality. But there are ways that Connie can advance her cause even more with the usual fervor of the new-found convert.

First, Connie and her cohort claim that because the faculty at ASU is 75% white (so they assert, once more confusing race and ethnicity), that’s not diverse enough (especially in math and the sciences, where diversity in terms of race and gender has long been a problem in higher education). Fair enough. However, where are the non-white people in Connie’s extensive body of fiction? Why are all the “sweet southern boys” white? Heck, by Connie’s own criteria, she’s a racist writer! Surely her South ought to have people of color in it, if it is to be about the South, and not some fantasy lily-white supremacist paradise.

Second, what about the Virginia Flaggers? They have exactly one person of color marching with them … far below the percentage of African Americans in Virginia (indeed, according to some of them, far below the percentage of blacks who “served” [with] the Confederate army)! Again, by the criteria of Connie and her cohort, the Virginia Flaggers are a racist organization!

We are glad to see that Connie Chastain’s leading the fight for diversity, and we ask simply that she practices what she preaches. We ask the same of her identity-challenged commenter “Austin,” who places Hofstra University in New Jersey (although a team that once trained at Hofstra now plays in New Jersey).

When it comes to joining the continuing struggle for human dignity, pride, and equality, I say of Connie Chastain, the on-again, off-again spokesperson for the Virginia Flaggers: better late than never! We assume that she’ll withhold her services from the Flaggers until they comply with her interest in diversity. Don’t worry: we can check the progress weekly as we look at pictures of flagging the VMFA. Since we are on the eve of Black History Month, we can rest assured that Connie is committed to the cry, “We will overcome!”