by Jon Hanson
Air Force Personnel, Services and Manpower Public Affairs
4/20/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas
One Air Force Personnel Center officer describes diversity as more than male or female, black or white, young or old.
"It's bigger than that," said Lt. Col. Jenise Carroll, chief of the Total Force Service Center operations division at AFPC. "It's bigger than race. Diversity includes age, race, philosophy, gender, social economics, family, disability and geographic origin."
The AFPC Diversity Council events chairperson believes diversity includes and involves everyone and is one of the strengths of our nation and the Air Force.
"Diversity is truly about recognizing, embracing and utilizing our differences in every aspect of our life -- personal and professional," Carroll said during a professional development council seminar last month.
Although society promotes and encourages diversity, some people believe there is a stigma associated with the word, said Carroll.
"Many individuals associate diversity with quotas or think it is just another buzzword," Carroll said. "That is not the case. In my opinion, diversity goes beyond situations, ethnicities, generations, race and educational backgrounds. It is more about talent and opportunity provided to all."
Carroll believes society can overcome the stigma.
"We need to embrace our diverse world and understand everyone brings a different perspective to the fight," she said. "We can ensure this happens by educating personnel on the value of diversity.
"I always say 'it is OK to have friends who don't look like you,'" Carroll said. "You learn something from each other."
Others' successes did not happen overnight, and success will continue as long as people put forth an effort, Carroll emphasized, pointing to the impact on global culture by diversity icons including Amelia Earhart, Walt Disney, Mother Teresa, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
"These icons paved the way, knocking down barrier after barrier to get America and the Air Force to this level," Carroll said. "Let's continue the movement by creating opportunities for all people."
Hey, look kids, a deer!
Okay, seriously, leaving aside what diversity in “age, race, philosophy, gender, social economics, family, disability and geographic origin" are supposed to mean in the context of an all-volunteer armed services with strict age limits and fitness standards, the substance of this is disingenuous at best. It’s all well and good that Lt. Col. Carroll has a warm place in his heart for all kinds of diversity, but at the end of the day, the kind of diversity that matters – and in fact the kind of diversity that has earned the word the reputation he is now trying to wiggle away from – is the kind that gets counted. And in the military, as in the rest of the federal government, that diversity is limited to race and sex, plus ethnicity for Hispanics.
And frankly, in the context of the list above, that’s probably a good thing. I have no idea what diversity in “social economics” and “family” is supposed to mean. But diversity in “philosophy” probably means “more Democrats” at best and “more liberal atheists” at worst. Is this really an improvement? Better to leave well-enough alone.