Affirmative Distraction

Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the recently seated 17th president of Dartmouth College, was interviewed in the most current edition of that college’s Alumni Magazine. Though his comments are specific to that school, the gist of his message is applicable to any organization in its common sense, simplicity, and importance. Some excerpts, below:

Kim is a sharp critic of prevailing approaches to diversity at colleges and universities because they overlook the fundamental role of cultural identity in how people see the world and apply their intellect and creativity. He cites, among other examples, the largely racially based method of measuring and describing population mix — black, white, Asian, Hispanic — and the prevalence of “political correctness” which, according to Kim, stifles honest engagement and hides issues that ought to be aired.

“The way we deal with diversity on American campuses is so superficial that it is dangerous,” Kim says. “The worst of it is that smart young people can see through the superficiality and conclude that diversity is not important or that the shallow, stylized way we deal with cultural competence is sufficient. It is not. In the end we have to understand each other’s humanity.”

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