Eschew Claytons Diversity
Okay, first I need to explain that title to all the non-Aussies out there. Some number of years ago, there was a saturation-level advertising campaign for a brand of soft drink packaged and sold as “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink” – and the brand name was Claytons.
It took approximately 5 nanoseconds for the term “Claytons” to be used as shorthand for something that claimed to be a thing but was actually something else, usually something inferior. Jokes got made about Claytons budgets (the budget you have when you’re not having a budget), Claytons recessions (the recession you have when you’re not having a recession) and so on.
Which, of course, brings me to the current batch of diversity you have when you’re not having diversity, largely because I read some incoherent flailing about Dragoncon and a diversity track and in my testing career I see a fair amount of well-meaning discussion about needing more diversity… Except that a lot of the time “diversity” is used to mean “different skin tones but must have right-think” (which should really be left-think, given the political leanings of those commenting in that direction). Somehow diversity of experience and diversity of beliefs rarely if ever rates a mention.
Now in my view, interacting with people who have different experiences, different perspectives, and even different beliefs than me is something that helps to enrich my world-building and character development. If I can work and empathize with someone whose worldview is damn near antithetical to mine, I can understand that worldview well enough to write a character with similar beliefs.
If, on the other claw, I’m surrounded by people who share my basic perspective, any character I try to write who has a different worldview is going to be flat. Substandard. Claytons, as it were. And a gathering of people of every possible shade of human skin color or every possible flavor of sexuality is still going to be completely Claytons diverse if all of them have the same notions of how things should be.
Of course, the people who are most caught by the trap of appearance/declared sexuality = ideology are those who are most prone to view other people as defined by whatever group they happen to belong to. It’s a normal human trait to use obvious distinguishing marks to make a snap judgment on whether someone else is us or them, but that doesn’t mean that every them is the same as every other them.
Take the Mad Geniuses. We’re Odds. We don’t fit in. But every last one of us fails to fit in in a different way than every other one of us. Most of us don’t – that I know of – make the mistake of thinking that a defining trait makes every member of a group the same. To take a really obvious example, if you look at people with blond hair, you see a whole lot of differences. Tall, short, thin, fat, smart, stupid, and every other possible variant. Why in heck should that change because instead of blond hair you’re looking at very dark tightly curled hair? And so it goes.
People who insist that heretical badthink thoughts aren’t worthy of being included in diversity groupings are settling for Claytons diversity. They need to relax. And have a (not Claytons) drink.
(For the curious, here’s one of the ads…)