Ahmed conducted interviews with 21 diversity professionals at universities in Australia and the United Kingdom to understand what diversity actually means and how diversity is framed. In addition, Ahmed supplements interview data with her own recollections of racialized and gendered experiences while performing diversity work.
Ahmed’s works and experiences reminded me of experiences I had in the US. Particularly, since I’m an “Asian”, though I don’t like to be considered just as an Asian when there are many different ethnic groups, Ahmed’s words made me think about many Asian American friends of mine and their racially discriminatory experiences and concerns. Just as Ahmed was stopped by two policemen in a car and was asked, “Are you Aboriginal?”, I noticed that there have been some hostile situations against people of color and immigrants in the US. Don’t I look like one of the Asians? Is there then any way that I can escape from American’s prejudice or biases for Asian Americans? I think this is why we should keep speaking up for inclusivity and belongingness in the US.
I dare think that one of the US’s racial problems is politicians who compromise the racial conflicts in order to obtain their political powers. And I think racial problems should be dealt in the perspective of human rights. If a particular race is being discriminated against in the society, not only the race being discriminated, but also every race in the society must involve in the problematic situation and resolve the problem altogether. That is, the white people who are the majority group in the US must participate in the racial reconciliation movement so that every constituent of the society can agree upon the word “diversity”. Removing the irrational concept of white supremacy away from the US society, when every race is respected and treated fairly, this country can be, according to Ahmed said, “home” to anyone.
Ahmed also challenges us to the way how we can see institutions. She explains that how the practitioners aim to embed diversity such that it becomes an institutional given. I like Ahmed’s point, “To be in this world is to be involved with things in such a way that they recede from consciousness.” I think this is why we should always be wary of things given by institutions and the world. Things that existed now are not just for granted. Therefore, as people living in this society, we should keep watching out what information we are learning from our society and what education we are receiving from various educational institutions.
Your post highlights a key tension, indeed a conundrum. On the hand, your write that “If a particular race is being discriminated against in the society, not only the race being discriminated, but also every race in the society must involve in the problematic situation and resolve the problem altogether.” This idea, that our troubles are shared (I’m thinking about James Baldwin’s wonderful formulations of this principle of each of us being part of each other whether we like it or not), runs headlong into another of your points (and Ahmed’s), namely that one of the givens around diversity is precisely the ability of whiteness to remove itself from the field of vision that seems to identify the “other” as the problem. When problems of institutional racism (for instance) are sneaky (?) and embedded enough in our systems to hide the fact that they constitute the problem, how can we identify the point of intervention, the place where the invisible can become visible. Ahmed turns to phenomenology precisely because this kind of question is at the heart of phenomenological inquiry.