FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Illusion of Inclusion

by RODOLFO ACUÑA

This article is adapted from a presentation I gave at California State University East Bay on May 16, 2012 at its Third Annual Diversity Day.

It is only the second time I have been to California State University East Bay, formerly California State University Hayward. I am not going to be so presumptuous as to assumed that I will speak about “diversity” on this campus, knowing that I am speaking to the choir and that the people on this campus that believe in diversity are in this room.

Diversity from my experience is an ideal of equal justice that was defined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that has been perverted by the Supreme Court Justices and society. In my presentation, I use the title of a book by Rudy Rosales, a San Antonio colleague called aptly, the “Illusion of Inclusion.

We all buy into the numbers game and assume that because we can go to the school of our choice, go to college and become a Greek by joining a fraternity that we are being included.  Numbers have become an obsession and everyone looks to numbers as a justification for that inclusion.

Things are not as clear as in the Sixties when our numbers could be ignored and we were openly greasers to many. The need to include blacks and Latinos was clear to groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the inclusion became part of the Civil Rights Movement. Youth picked up on the injustice of being underrepresented and there were school walkouts in California, Texas and other parts of the country.

Because of the enormity of the problem, diversity became associated with “access” – the numbers game. In order to understand the reasons one must look at the times. When I arrived at San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge) there were only 50 students of Mexican extraction on campus. Today there are about 11,000 Latinos.

Today, based on numbers there is the illusion that we have attained a diverse campus.

CSUN has the largest Chicana/o Studies Department in the nation. We offer some 166 sections of Chicana/o Studies per semester; employ 27 tenure track professors (18 are female) and 42 part timers. It could be argued that this has made CSUN diverse.

Visibly it is. Visitors always remark that it looks like a Latino campus. However, let’s look below the surface.

The ratio of Latinas to Latinos is approaching 70/30 which has implications for the future. The administration does not give us a breakdown of the various nationalities within the Latino category so we cannot ascertain the percentage f Mexican Americans and Central Americans. These are very important statistics because Los Angeles is a segregated the degree of which follows the lines of educational opportunity. Fifty percent of LA is Latino but go to the upscale malls and this reality is not reflected in the colorrace of the shoppers.  For that matter, look at the CSUN Website and you develop colorblindness–it snow white.

You can also look at the hiring patterns and most of the professors are white and the grounds men and janitors are brown. Over 75 percent of the academic departments do not employ a single professor of Mexican origin and 90 percent do not have a course drawing from that corpus of knowledge. Curricular changes have been superficial if they exist.

Worse of all let’s look at the interaction of students. Integration is supposed to be part of diversity.  When I was growing up the highest rate of interaction and intermarriage occurred as a consequence of parochial schools. I guess we all thought that we would have to deal with each other in the afterlife.

I like to go out into the quads and see the students interact.  What I see is that most groups hang with their own.

The Armenians eat with Armenians, the Asians with Asians, Mexican Americans and Latinos with their own. Like in the case of the web site the administration does little to promote real diversity. It employs two full time coordinators to work with the Greeks to promote their interests but expend almost no resources to integrate students.

For this reason, the Chicana/o Studies Department has raised funds to send students to Arizona. We have taken three trips to Phoenix, Tucson and Nogales. In the last two trips we have included students from Asian American Studies and students have held joint fundraisers. On June 2 they will be sponsoring a run.

As CSUN follows a “one fits all” model, we should ask, is CSUN an aberration? I don’t think so!

Our inclusion is an illusion because no substantive changes have been made in terms of power relations.  At CSUN we are just more visible.

What is going to happen?

Change will come slower in the future. Real diversity only comes about when people are discontent or offended and upset by a lack of justice. Truth be told, the Occupy Wall Street Movement would have been dead in the water if the occupiers had been able to get jobs in the one or even the 25 percent and had been able to pay for their tuition.

Similarly it is difficult to motivate alumni from minority community when they achieve middle-class status, and have access to better housing and schools for their children.

The issue of diversity may become mute in the future, however. In 2006, “Nearly 10,000 African-American students graduated from high school last month in Los Angeles County. This fall, only 96 of them will attend one of the state’s most prestigious universities, the University of California, Los Angeles…The number of black students at UCLA has been falling for years, partly due to a ballot measure that ended racial preferences in admissions.”

Looking at who has been included is an eye opener. A glimpse at the Greek societies tells us that those admitted generally come from the ranks of come from the ranks of the upper third of the Latino community.

This will become the rule as we all become Arizona and universities screen out barrio applicants. Today, the EOP (Education Opportunity Program) admits applicants whose parents earn $100,000 annually, an adjustment that was partially initiated to recruit more whites and “better prepared” or “the better type” minorities.

Even this is becoming mute and the budget is wiping out or consolidating equity programs. Exorbitant tuition fees are wiping out many of our most needy students The administration presses for salaries commensurate with those in private industry and just recently we hired a new president. The system promptly spent $345,000 to renovate her home.

The union is pressing for higher salaries when already 50/60 percent of this sum comes from student fees.

In the end, diversity today has nothing to do with equal treatment or justice. Just so we can keep up the numbers and we can create a caste system similar to that under the Spanish Crown in Mexico.

The irony is that white students are crying reverse discrimination when they should be demanding power. Like all of us they are under the illusion of inclusion.

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution. 

 

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
David Yearsley
Haydn Seek With Hsu
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail