So most of you may have heard about the shit storm the newest member of the science blogging community has gotten into. Isis, I think rightly, took offense to some of the stuff that GMP wrote on diversity. I will say that personal hygiene comments DO NOT belong in a post about cultural diversity, full stop. I live in a city where probably 80% of the worlds countries are represented and I have not seen a case where lack of cleanliness was part of the culture. A lack of cleanliness is a personnel issue not a cultural diversity issue. I know Whitey McWhitersons who have come into the lab dirty and smelly and I've been around people of my own community where I've been fuck buddy you stink! Sorry GMP that was a huge mistake to lump that into a post about cultural diversity.
Lets talk about the fine balance of cultural diversity
I read the original post, but did not bother commenting because as I read her response to comments it appeared to me, that she wasn't actually listening to why it pissed people off. I read upto AA's second comment and up until then GMP's attitude was its my lab, its how I choose to run it, I'm ESL and its how I had to be and oh God the Arizona example...just bad.
Lets agree on somethings. Having a strong foreign accent isn't necessarily a black mark. I know many people who are quite successful despite being difficult to understand because of their strong Irish, British, Australian accents. In general, <- not true across the board, certain accents are perfectly fine and non-threatening. Its the Mexican, Latin American, Indian, Asian accents that tend to piss people off. Because you know, we're don't really belong here.
Let also agree that not all people have the same opinion or experience, but can we say that we don't want to become the Borg and assimilate? Assimilation does not lead to diversity and when you preach conformation, you're preaching assimilation.
We can all agree that command of the English language is important to succeed in North America. Many large cities have china towns, little india's etc. These communities are great because new immigrants have an established community they can join. But its a double edged sword. It also discourages integration. My parents frequently complain about the recent Punjabi immigrants who haven't learned English and don't expand their circle of interaction past the large Punjabi expat community. It leads to barriers for woman and children who need to access services or rights that they didn't have in their countries of origin. The idealistic image of integration was my son's first birthday party, which was a traditional huge Indian affair. All our friends and family (of various shapes and colours) were in a hall, with tons of food and drink, dressed in our colorful outfits, dancing to bhangra. On all the big screens the hockey game was on and we were all watching. The CBC has hockey games with Punjabi play by play. That is awesome.
The negative is that many "traditional" attitudes exist and are hard to break down because some immigrants are not embracing the best of what Canada offers. I have been heard complaining of relatives who have lived here for >5 years yet don't speak English. They have no incentive because they can work for an Punjabi run company, bank where there are Punjabi speaking employees. But what happens if they have to access the legal or health system? They argue against giving rights to women/ gays / lesbians, using the same argruements that were used against giving my parents rights. Again this is not a blanket statement because everyones' experiences are DIFFERENT
I can understand GMP's desire to encourage strong command of the English language, but she muddied the waters when she brought in the food and cleanness issues. In one of my comments to Isis's post, I commented how I am still hesitant to eat my Indian food in the lab because of all the negative commentary as I was growing up. True Diversity is celebrating both our similarities and differences, working toward blending to make a better environment for everyone.
I'm not sure I personally agree with an English only policy, mentoring is a challenge. You can know what you went through and say that your students have to do that OR you can recognize that what you went through is bullshit and work to ensure your students don't have to go through it to.
4 days ago