The Trouble with Diversity

How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality

Walter Benn Michaels

A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book

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“A withering examination of how the celebration of cultural and ethnic difference obscures our yawning economic divide . . .   This is a refreshing, angry, and important book.” —The Atlantic Monthly
 
Acclaimed as “eloquent” (Chicago Tribune), “cogent” (The New Yorker), and “impossible to disagree with” (The Washington Post); excoriated as a “wildly implausible” product of “the ‘shock and awe’ school of political argument” (Slate), The Trouble with Diversity argues that our enthusiastic celebration of “difference” masks our neglect of the difference that really matters—the one between rich and poor. A magnificent skewer of pieties, Walter Benn Michaels takes on the many manifestations of our devotion—from affirmative action, to the worship of multiculturalism, to the obsession with heritage and identity—demonstrating that diversity offers a false vision of social justice, one that conveniently costs us nothing. In a daring break with both the left and the right, he calls for less attention to the illusory distinction of culture and more attention to the real discrepancies of class and wealth.

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TROUBLE WITH DIVERSITY
1The Trouble with RaceHere are two stories, one from the end of the nineteenth century, the other from the end of the twentieth. First, the nineteenth-century one. In 1892, a young man gets on a train going from New Orleans to Covington, Louisiana. Because Louisiana trains have recently been segregated, he can enter either a coach reserved for whites or one marked COLORED. Despite the fact that he is very light skinned (he is only one-eighth black, and his lawyer would later claim "the mixture of colored blood" was not "discernible"), when he enters the one for whites,

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About the Author

Walter Benn Michaels

Walter Benn Michaels is a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “One of the most influential Americanists of his generation” (The Chronicle of Higher Education), he is the author of Our America and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, and n+1. He lives in Chicago.

Walter Benn Michaels

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The Trouble with Diversity
How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality
Walter Benn Michaels

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Henry Holt and Co.
A Metropolitan/Holt Paperbacks Book
July 2007
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805083316
ISBN10: 0805083316
5 x 7 15/16 inches, 256 pages
$16.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
July 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466818811
ISBN10: 1466818816
256 pages
$9.99
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Holt Paperbacks

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