Something we have been hearing way too often lately is diversity is not worth praising. That “it’s 2018,” so diversity and acceptance aren’t things we have to worry about anymore. That racism and prejudice aren’t things we have to worry about anymore. That cruelty, judgement and downright bigotry are a thing of the past. Well, dear reader, these assumptions are, unfortunately, incorrect.
This past Friday, the Alligator proudly displayed a front page reading “Bigger than Us: Three black UF student vie for president.” The feature story detailed the discrimination each student has faced throughout their lives and revealed each of their triumphs. It also shed light on the fact UF has had only one black female Student Body president. And that was in 1986. To top it off, there hasn’t been a black Student Government president in more than ten years.
Looking at our school’s history, the race between Ian Green, Janae Moodie and Revel Lubin is, in fact, historic. More than that, it’s something for our school to be proud of, and it signifies a positive change in our campus community. Nonetheless, people continue to gripe about so-called unnecessary celebratory reactions as a result of strides made toward racial and gender diversity.
For those who think America has reached a point where we no longer need to celebrate diversity, we invite you to take a look at the numbers.
Out of 45 U.S. presidents, one has been black. To date, only 10 African Americans have served in the U.S. Senate. There have been eight members of the Senate who were Asian American, nine who were Hispanic and three who were Native American. Remember, these numbers show the racial representation through America’s entire history — not just this past year.
The 115th Congress was labeled as the most racially diverse group to be sworn in in America’s history. When you look at the numbers, however, only 19 percent of this Congress is made up of nonwhites. In our opinion, this is no triumph at all. It’s a travesty.
As of October 2017, there were only four black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and only 32 were female. Let’s keep in mind, this is out of 500 companies and 500 possible CEO positions. Moreover, according to the Atlantic, even when people were able to break through the racial glass ceiling, after retirement, their positions were often filled by white men.
The simple fact is this: Minorities and women are not represented as they should be in positions of power in this country. Is representation improving? Yes. But still, it is doing so at a staggerly low rate.
In our opinion, our country will never reach a point where we are finished celebrating diversity and equal representation. Our country is nearly 160 years old, and we are only just now starting to see a positive change in terms of diverse representation. To be frank, we have about 150 years of disrespect through lack of diversity we need to make up for, and this is why we won’t stop celebrating.
At a school where only 6 percent of the Student Body is black, having three black students run for president is a huge deal and an incredible stride toward diversity. Sixty years ago, black people weren’t even allowed to attend UF, and now we have an entire SG presidential slate that is made up entirely of black students.
So, no. We won’t stop boosting triumphs. We won’t stop praising those who overcome adversity. We won’t stop fighting for diversity and equal representation. We won’t stop celebrating strides made.