Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Diversity Pictured and Diversity in Reality

The following NPR article is interesting:
A Campus More Colorful Than Reality:  Beware That College Brochure

It seems some colleges are using photoshopped pictures to create images of a diverse student body on campus. So, the college magazine or website uses images of a more diverse student body than really exists.

I've seen churches do this, too. Such websites show stock pictures of families and individuals of various ethnic backgrounds, while in reality the church in overwhelmingly white. That can be good if they sincerely desire a diverse congregation, or misleading if there are bad reasons the congregation is not diverse.

Indeed, churches often reflect their communities, and as such, may not have opportunity for a very diverse congregation. Using such pictures might be a way of communicating to the viewer that everyone is welcome at the church. In such cases, the intended message is that people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds are welcomed. However, this does not excuse callous attitudes towards such people.

For example, I once had a minister tell me that studies show that it would have been economically better for African-Americans if the 1964 Civil Rights Bill had not passed (FYI: 80% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats in Congress voted for the bill). He knew my family is an interracial family, and he suggested that this law was a bad law. If you do not understand why this is an offensive remark, please see the movie, The Help, and understand that at that time in which this story took place, my marriage would have been illegal in many states.

There is no excuse, economic or otherwise, to support a system that humiliates people. Taking a callous attitude towards people of color might be one reason a congregation is not diverse. In such a case, using stock pictures of diverse people can be deceptive.

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