[Blackstudies-l] MARLON JAMES: WHY I’M DONE TALKING ABOUT DIVERSITY

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Tue Feb 21 08:29:20 EST 2017


We  should try his idea: an all-white panel on diversity.  Maybe that will
get results...


New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/> MARLON JAMES: WHY I’M
DONE TALKING ABOUT DIVERSITY
<http://repeatingislands.com/2017/02/21/marlon-james-why-im-done-talking-about-diversity/>
by
ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>

*[image: 08^781085 01JAMES101914.JPG]*

*Last fall (October 2016), Literary Hub featured Jamaican-born author
Marlon James (A Brief History of Seven Killings, winner of the 2015 Man
Booker Prize) speaking about misguided approaches to “diversity” and
“inclusion,” especially in the academic world, in the diaspora:*

[. . .] It’s not just that diversity, like tolerance, is an outcome treated
as a goal. It is that we too often mistake discussing diversity with doing
anything constructive about it. This might be something we picked up from
academia, the idea that discussing an issue is somehow on par with solving
it, or at least beginning the process. A panel on diversity is like a panel
on world peace. It should be seeking a time when we no longer need such
panels. It should be a panel actively working towards its own irrelevance.
The fact that we’re still having them not only means that we continue to
fail, but the false sense of accomplishment in simply having one is
deceiving us into thinking that something was tried.

[. . .] The problem with me coming to the table to talk about diversity is
the belief that I have some role to play in us accomplishing it, and I
don’t. And the fact that I have to return to that table often should be
proof that such discussions aren’t achieving what they are supposed to. [.
. .]

[. . .] Diversity can’t accomplish anything because diversity shouldn’t
have been a goal in the first place. The other problem is the continued
insistence on having the writer of color talk about these things, as if by
getting Claudia Rankine to talk about diversity, one has accomplished it.
Rankine would be the first to point out the hypocrisy in the assumption
itself, probably in the first line of her speech. You would think our sole
purpose as writers at these panels is to broaden the understanding of white
people, when we could you know, talk about writing. Worse, it’s the same
talk we gave last year, and the year before that, and the year before that
one, going back years, and decades. Either we’re not speaking loud enough,
or clear enough, or maybe nobody is listening. Maybe a diversity panel
should be all white.

Think about it: A panel on diversity with no diversity on it. The outrage
would be immediate, even from people of color. And yet maybe that is what
should happen. And maybe the first question should be why do we need a
black person on a panel to talk about inclusion when it’s the white person
who needs to figure out how to include? [. . .]

[Photo above by Renee Jones Schneider/*Star Tribune*.]

For full article, see http://lithub.com/marlon-james-why-im-done-talking-
about-diversity/
*ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>* |
February 21, 2017 at 12:03 am | Tags: Diversity
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/diversity/>, Jamaica
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/jamaica/>, Jamaican writers
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/jamaican-writers/>, Marlon James
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/marlon-james/> | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-tO8

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