Saturday, September 26, 2009

Diversity=An Ever-Widening Variety of Ethnic Restaurants at which White People Like Me Can Dine

We can't let the week pass without calling attention to the almost too-perfect distillation of the mindless, happy-ass embrace of "diversity" for mere diversity's sake that was found in Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg's offering of this past Tuesday. The column was pegged to the news ... well, it wasn't really "news" ... a less-than-newsy Census update showing (again) that the white percentage of both Houston and Harris County's populations continues to decline. Here's how the Teen Columnist* found yet another way to let readers know what an all-around fine and sensitivie person she is:
Although the trend has been building for some time, it's easy for today's Houston, tomorrow's America, to have sneaked up on some folks.

But many of us experience the richness of Houston's diversity every day, at work, at Hermann Park, at the Galleria, and embrace it.

That's a mighty tepid embrace by the "many of us." We don't go to the Galleria too often, but we feel comfortable in pointing out that the overwhelming majority of the cell phone-mesmerized zombies gliding up and down its walkways are white, maybe seven out of 10 you'd corral at random. Not a place where an upscale shopper such as Falkenberg would be discomfited by a general lack of whiteness. Perhaps she meant to type "Sharpstown Mall," but then that's really no place to wrap diversity in a heartfelt abrazo, since white shoppers there are almost as hard to find as a black or Hispanic editorial writer at the Chronicle.

As for "at work," we also feel comfortable in pointing out that the particular workplace where the Teen Columnist slaps together her schizz also is overwhelming white, almost as white as the ice rink at the Galleria, and the higher you go in the hieirarchy the whiter it gets. Not only does the paper boast (maybe it doesn't really boast) a downsized all-white editorial board, but the particular racket in which Falkenberg is engaged is so damn white it's funny: of the 20 personages listed as columnists for the paper, 18 appear to be as white as Falkenberg. That's 90 percent. The other two are African American. Not a Hispanic in view, in a city where, as Falkneberg "reported" with a touch of undisguised glee, Hispanics constitute a plurality of almost 43 percent. Not a one--nada.

This can mean only one of two things: either the Chronicle is one racist institution, nowhere near as willing as its Teen Columnist to embrace diversity, or the newspaper hires and promotes based on merit (and who you know, of course), not on race/ethnicity. Falkenberg could partly remedy this imbalance by voluntarily stepping aide for a Hispanic Metro columnist. Maybe the paper could find one who's a conservative ideologue AND knows something about the city, thus correcting three imbalances with one wild shotgun blast. Falkenberg could then go work the paper's police beat for at least a few months to get a somewhat deeper perspective on the city than can be obtained dining at the Cheesecake Factory.

We will grant that Hermann Park, the third venue where Falkenberg and the "many of us" embrace diversity, does attract a fairly mixed crowd, but outside of the golf course there's really not much of an entry requirement at the park.

*We noticed in her subsequent column Falkenberg seemed to indicate that she is with child. Of this we know no more, not having read past the second paragraph, but we do offer a heartfelt "Congratulations" and wish her the best of luck in finagling the magnet school thing.

1 comment:

Robert Boyd said...

One possible definition of diversity in a public space in Houston, for what it's worth, would be that if you could randomly pick one person from that space, you would not be able to make a good guess what their race or ethnicity would be. One place like that, I think, is Memorial City. Why? Because it draws customers from the more lower middle class and working class neighborhoods north of I-10 (which have large numbers of Mexican-American and Korean-American residents--and the usual mixture of "everything else" (including lots of white folks), and it draws customers from south of I-10 in the more affluent Memorial neighborhoods, which tend to be white but also contain the usual mixture of affluent non-white folks (including increasing numbers of folks of South Asian descent).

The problem with Memorial City is that despite its mixed salad clientele, its shops and restaurants are boringly devoid of any hint of ethnicity (although certainly if you need to get a blender or pair of shoes, Memorial City is perfectly adequate). You have to go to the lower end strip centers to get a good pho!