The Trouble with Diversity

How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality

Walter Benn Michaels

Metropolitan Books

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A brilliant assault on our obsession with every difference except the one that really matters—the difference between rich and poor
 
If there’s one thing Americans agree on, it’s the value of diversity. Our corporations vie for slots in the Diversity Top 50, our universities brag about minority recruiting, and every month is Somebody’s History Month. But in this provocative new book, Walter Benn Michaels argues that our enthusiastic celebration of “difference” masks our neglect of America’s vast and growing economic divide. Affirmative action in schools has not made them more open, it’s just guaranteed that the rich kids come in the appropriate colors. Diversity training in the workplace has not raised anybody’s salary (except maybe the diversity trainers’) but it has guaranteed that when your job is outsourced, your culture will be treated with respect.

With lacerating prose and exhilarating wit, Michaels takes on the many manifestations of our devotion to diversity, from companies apologizing for slavery, to a college president explaining why there aren’t more women math professors, to the codes of conduct in the new “humane corporations.” Looking at the books we read, the TV shows we watch, and the lawsuits we bring, Michaels shows that diversity has become everyone’s sacred cow precisely because it offers a false vision of social justice, one that conveniently costs us nothing. The Trouble with Diversity urges us to start thinking about real justice, about equality instead of diversity. Attacking both the right and the left, it will be the most controversial political book of the year.

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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. Widely noted as one of the founders (with Stephen Greenblatt) of the New Historicism, he is the author of Our America and The Shape of the Signifier and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine and The Boston Globe. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Walter Benn Michaels

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

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

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
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Metropolitan Books

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