What diversity should mean.

Position:LETTER FROM THE EDITOR - Editorial
 
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If I were to choose this country's most diverse organization it would have to be the military. As Gulf War era veteran and after spending three years in the Army, I can speak about this with some experience. Growing up as a teenager during the 1980s in Los Angeles, I was, like all raw recruits, brutally thrust into Basic Training, going through the savage regimen in the sweaty camps of Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Growing up in Calexico, my family moved to Los Angeles when I was nine, landing in Watts, the part of the city that had seen the riots a decade earlier. Predominantly African-American, Latinos were a minority during the late 1970s.

But the Army experience was different. Imagine not only training and working long harsh hours with people from very different backgrounds, places, creeds, cultures and accents; then imagine sleeping next to them from two to four months.

And that was just the beginning. My three-year tour took me across the country, from the ultimate urban experience in Los Angeles to a military fort surrounded by rural New York (which looks nothing like Manhattan and seemed a mixture of small towns that came out of It's a Wonderful Life, with some country western ethos thrown in).

Almost a quarter of a century after I left the service, I can say that the diverse, multicultural experience I had was my biggest teacher in the meaning of diversity. During my time there, I made many friends and a few enemies; I still keep in touch with some of my friends.

During our current and first issued dedicated almost entirely to diversity, we have tried to tackle this theme that for decades, many experts have mostly paid lip service to it. According to social commentators like David Brooks, in his essay "People like us," despite preaching a lot about it, we really don't like diversity.

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According to Brooks, we often not only segregate, willingly, along racial lines, but also cultural, economic and social ways. In academia, the institution that preaches diversity the most, people like conservatives and Evangelicals are non-existent, he says.

Amongst Latinos, our divide goes deeper than our countries of origins. In multicultural Los Angeles, some Mexican-Americans from areas like Montebello or Alhambra are accused of being wealthier and "sellouts" by some East Los Angeles Latinos. Yes, discrimination between Hispanics has historically been not only between countries of...

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