Identity Politics vs. Diversity

Arin N. Reeves
October 2008

For better or for worse, national politics and diversity have crashed into each other in 2008. We have witnessed historical achievements that signal the disintegration of long standing racial and gender barriers in American politics. Yet, the choices we make as to how we talk about these achievements have the potential to resurrect the same barriers we have fought so hard to break down.

The 2008 political campaigns have given us a tremendous opportunity to celebrate and leverage the diversity of talented leaders who are willing and eager to serve this country. These same political campaigns have also provided us the opportunity to use stereotypes and biases – identity politics – to politicize our differences. Given a choice between diversity and identity politics, we are unfortunately shunning the future benefits of the former to embrace the heated rhetoric of the latter.

Think Smarter. Lead Better.

  • Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.

    Walter Lippmann
  • The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.

    Albert Einstein
  • To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

    Tony Robbins
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

    Stephen R. Covey
  • Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs.

    Leo Tolstoy
  • Controversial' as we all know, is often a euphemism for 'interesting and intelligent.

    Kevin Smith
  • Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.

    Theodore Roosevelt
  • Differences challenge assumptions.

    Anne Wilson Schaef
  • Wit lies in recognizing the resemblance among things which differ and the difference between things which are alike.

    Madame De Stael
  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • One must even beware of too much certainty that the answer to life's problems can only be found in one way and that all must agree to search for light in the same way and cannot find it in any other way.

    Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.

    Mahatma Gandhi
  • There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.

    Michel de Montaigne
  • Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.

    Mikhail Gorbachev
  • When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.

    Charles Evan Hughes
  • I not only use all the brains that I have, but all I can borrow.

    Woodrow Wilson
  • Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity.They are the vital process of policy among free men.

    Herbert Hoover
  • Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.

    Thomas Jefferson
  • Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.

    Isaac Asimov
  • It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.

    Albert Einstein
  • In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.

    Audre Lorde
  • America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.

    Louis D. Brandeis
  • Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.

    James Surowiecki
  • Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.

    Malcolm Forbes
  • Diversity creates dimension in the world.

    Elizabeth Ann Lawless
  • The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation -- or a relationship.

    Deborah Tannen
  • Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.