America For Beginners

Bringing American culture closer to new immigrants

[Thoughts] The Office. The Worst Diversity Day Ever

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3 comments on “[Thoughts] The Office. The Worst Diversity Day Ever

  1. Cas Michel Gerarrd
    January 8, 2012

    I cannot STAND Steve Carroll nor the absolute inane buffoonery that is presented on Americain T.V.

    My Father called Americain T.V. “The IDIOT Box” when I was Younger (In Charlesbourg Canada).

    It was Bad then (1970’s).

    It’s utter TRASH Presently…..clearly an under-current of what Socitie du Americain has devolved to…

  2. George Simons
    January 9, 2012

    Michel’s comments About the nature of US television may indeed be spot on, however for those of us who were involved in intercultural and diversity work, there is an even deeper issue here at stake. Diversity initiatives and many training programs are simply not working. Intercultural and diversity competence as recent studies have shown is not a high priority for executives and managers. Why is this? Certainly there are poorly executed exercises that can indeed inspire parody on the part of comics and commentators, but I think the challenge goes far deeper.

    How do we get beyond the current impasse? In my opinion we need far More profound cultural analysis of the underlying paradigms and social constructions that make up what we take as reality and live by. Intercultural list on diversity specialists who prostitute themselves to see human beings as nothing more than potential customers and consumers are in fact driven by the same cultural realities that cause the problems they are trying to fix. They frequently live in a world of marketing and branding, attempting to sell themselves and their work using the same principles that cause the diversity the dilemmas they are claim to alleviate.

    The problem is, of course, where to start. There is enough chaos in the world already, and questioning the economic, military, political, etc. “realities” brings with it the fear that our world may come tumbling down like a house of cards. I believe that this is an unconscious fear that drives fundamentalisms of all sorts, and when I say fundamentalisms, I don’t mean simply religion, but the religions of economics, science, the whole non reflective existence from which we derive comfort, a sense of stability, and warding off of insecurity.

    I would certainly be eager to hear more from my fellow readers of this most excellent blog, particularly since I come from an older generation of American expats continually struggling to make sense out of my life and my work.

  3. cradosev
    January 14, 2012

    My initial reaction is to agree with Michel. I’m not a fan of The Office, but I’d actually push George’s take a bit further and say that The Office here (which, recall, is an American copy of the British comedic reality series…so it’s not uniquely American humor) is actually offering a tongue-in-cheek critique of corporate culture. That is, a critique both of the viral racism that abounds in these kinds of environments and the superficial efforts to get at the heart of that racism through ineffective “diversity education” exercises. To those of us who recognize the critique, episodes like this can indeed carry a dark humor and be thought-provoking. Unfortunately, I think the series is marketed to a less culturally aware and, arguably, a majority white audience, so the humor is available to be used as reinforcement of white privilege and things of that nature.

    I myself believe that the best way to begin attacking problems as profane and profound as intolerance, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and other variants is to approach them from the top-down as we simultaneously attack them from the bottom-up. 1) we have to continue educating and promoting open, kind and tolerant discussions about diversity and inclusion — this means training professionals in intercultural affairs, and specifically in facilitating conversation around volatile, personal topics AND 2) we must fight for policies that promote diversity in the workplace (and elsewhere) and that prevent (and punish) exclusion through profiling or stereotyping.

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