Diversity should not be a “thingâ€

By Kia Smith

“Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.” – Bell Hooks

To be honest, when it came to writing this piece, I struggled with finding the words to say. It’s hard to talk about diversity in the context of race, gender, class, sexuality, etc. without sounding like whining or pointing the finger.

However, if I don’t speak now, I’ll be forced to forever hold my peace and that’s just something I don’t want to do.


Diversity is a word commonly thrown around on this campus but is rarely ever practiced, unless someone has a quota to fill. To be diverse means to be of a different kind, form, character, etc. It means to be of various kinds or forms. Sure, SIU has a wide range of races on this campus. But just because there are physical bodies here does not mean that everyone’s voice is heard and everyone is accurately represented.

Sure, there are events like the International Festival, and sure, since it’s Black History Month, there are a multitude of events happening around campus and the Carbondale community, but that is not enough.

Aside from the Africana Studies department, there is a lack of faculty here that represents people of color.

Many on this campus are upset when marginalized groups exclude us. Asking, well, “Why is there a need for a black, LGBTQ+, Hispanic, or women’s resource center?” Asking, “Well, why is this campus so segregated?” Maybe if this campus was truly inclusive, we wouldn’t have to exclude ourselves.

On a predominantly white college campus, I feel it is imperative to create ways to accurately represent yourself, because if you leave it up to the majority, it will never get done.

Only a fool would blatantly not consider the voices and experiences of other people. Sure, there are diversity workshops and luncheons, and conferences geared towards making everyone a little more inclusive, but I don’t think they are real genuine efforts. If they were, there would be more evidence of it.

A point is to be raised: Diversity is not just some cool thing to do. Diversity should not be forced to happen just because there’s a quota to be filled. Diversity should not be forced to happen because you’re afraid of getting slammed with affirmative action lawsuits.


Diversity is not cultural assimilation.

Diversity is not cultural appropriation.

Realize the importance of different voices and different experiences. Understand the importance of variety and how that shapes not only this campus or community, but the entire world as well.

Because after all, diversity is not a “thing.” Diversity is a way of life.

Kia Smith can be contacted at [email protected] on Twitter @kiaSmith_ or at 536-3311 ext. 268