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Through The Eyes of Justice Clarence Thomas – Part I


In a verbal shot heard round the word, United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas shared with students at Palm Beach Atlantic University, “My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school.”

After a half century of “Diversity” as a paradigm in the USA,  discussion of SCJ Thomas’ verbalization prompted the question, “Should the Diversity & Inclusion sector be blamed for the Judge’s perception (belief) that America is “too sensitive” about race?”

Let’s first insert dictionary English definitions of the word “paradigm.”

Paradigm: – One that serves as a pattern or model. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

[At the VisualThesaurus website, enter the word “paradigm”] “The generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time.”

SCJ Thomas said we suffer more “race and differences” consciousness than in the 1960s. It is no small coincidence that “differences” have been the bread and butter of Diversity (and Inclusion) Consultants and Practitioners. The “Paradigm” got its start in the 1960s.  Does that infer causation, assuming Justice Thomas is right?

Logically, “valuing differences,” requires defining how and why people differ, and “embracing differences,” would require seeing how and why people differ.

So, who is and has been in the business of a focus on delineating and defining differences between people and helping people to clearly see differences?

There is a quick way to discover who might be the primary purveyors of differences, the practitioners of a sort of ‘differences husbandry,’ the number one force for spreading the philosophy of focusing on differences across North America.

Google it.

If you Google (or Bing) those two terms, whether or not bracketed in quotes, “valuing differences” or “embracing differences,” you’ll get an immediate and powerful sense of attribution. It seems clear that the Diversity Paradigm and its related industry is and has been emphasizing differences, promoting differences, raising awareness of differences, elevating differences, developing strategies and tactics for managing differences, enumerating differences, teaching the differences between differences, and developing an entire language and culture all built on the pillars of differences, a friend of mine even creating a beautiful multimedia encyclopedia of differences – Volume One. “Differences” are the very heart and soul of the Diversity Paradigm.

“Race” is just one difference, of course. SCJ Thomas is no slouch when it comes to choosing words that get attention. He’s neither naïve nor unaware that adding the word “race” to anything other than the word “horse” is a sure way to get media attention. And attention is what he wanted. But he also said, “differences-conscious.”  It just so happens that you can draw a straight line between “differences” and a specific profession without an awful lot of rigor and research. (The word “conscious” is nuanced, and we’ll get to that.)

It is not conjecture, but is the case, based on Google’s top hits, that human “differences” are the domain of a the Diversity and Inclusion profession. Their job and mission has been and remains, in a word, “differences.”  What any reasonable professional group does is advertise, market and sell what they do. It is no secret who has owned the “Differences R Us” franchise for the last half century, and promoted awareness of differences.

Here’s the dilemma for Diversity Consultants and Practitioners.  If SCJ Thomas is right, then the Diversity Paradigm has accomplished that awareness mission.  If SCJ Thomas is wrong, then it hasn’t.

How can that dilemma be resolved? Can it be resolved?  Follow this link to  Through The Eyes of Justice Clarence Thomas – Part II

Copyright © Robert D. Jones 2013 – All Rights Reserved

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