The Trouble with Diversity

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Michaels has written a bracing polemic that should quicken the debate over what diversity really means, or should mean, in academia and beyond. "The New York Review of Books"

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 eloquent ("Chicago Tribune") and captivating ("Los Angeles Times") book, Walter Benn Michaels argues that our enthusiastic celebration of difference masks our neglect of America s vast and growing economic divide.

When it was first published in 2006, "The Trouble with Diversity" provoked a firestorm of praise and condemnation not only hailed as genius ("The Economist"), cogent ("The New Yorker"), and impossible to disagree with ("The Washington Post") it was excoriated as a wildly implausible product of the shock and awe school of political argument ("Slate") and Seething, misplaced, amnesiac resentment ("The Nation"). Now, a decade later, Michaels offers a new afterword on how our regime of equal-opportunity exploitation has only intensified. Magnificently iconoclastic, he demonstrates that commitments to diversity fail to offer a premise for social justice and in fact legitimize the economic forces that drive inequality rather than offering a resistance or even a critique. Most importantly, he makes the case that we should pay less attention to the illusory distinction of culture, and more attention to the real discrepancies of class and wealth."

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