Monthly Archives: May 2013

Diverse (and, not to be excluded, Diversity)

Wow! Each one of us is diverse! (Except for the white guy on the end.)

Wow! An exciting example of diversity and hackneyed stock photography!

DIVERSE: “very different from each other and of various kinds” – Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

“I am an intelligent, diverse individual.”

Like hell. You may have diverse interests, but you are not diverse. One thing cannot be diverse.

Yes, yes, I know what you mean – that you’re interesting (or maybe unique). Or maybe that’s not what you mean. More and more I see advertisements seeking a “diverse candidate,” meaning, of course, a minority candidate. Now who in the adult working world doesn’t know what diverse is code for? Is it really so terrible to say “minority,” or heaven forbid, “black,” “Hispanic,” “Asian,” or whatever you need? After all, you can have a diversity of personalities (outgoing and reserved), temperaments (introverts and extroverts), even political outlooks. But hey, if it’s racial diversity you seek, fine. Just don’t use diverse to refer to an individual.

I close with this reminiscence. I once worked at a Fortune 500 company, designing recruiting brochures. “We need more, um – diverse people,” the recruiters would say, the “um” signifying the brain shift from “black/Asian/Hispanic” to more politically correct term. So I’d find a few more goshawful stock photographs, careful to select models who differed from the existing models. When they complained they weren’t um – diverse enough, I’d throw in a few beards for variety. I know I was being a jerk. But I felt bad for misleading our new hires. They were expecting to join an ethnically-mixed team of six enthusiastic people in suits. What they got instead were five bored white people in polo shirts.

– Otto E. Mezzo

References: “There is No Such Thing as a Diverse Candidate” http://www.rosettathurman.com/2011/12/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-diverse-candidate/

How now, Ho Hum?

It's Hip to Be Square!
I am old. So my children tell me. So also says my 20-something friend and officemate. She says a lot of things I don’t get, actually. Then again, she watches a lot more TV than I do, so I usually dismiss her catchphrases as culturally irrelevant to those of us who still think REM is alternative.

One of her more arresting utterances is “ho hum,” a response to one of my many witty and cutting remarks:

Me: Yes, your new Tom’s shoes are fabulous. Because nothing says “urban sophisticate” like burlap.

Her: Ho hum!

By ho hum she means “what-EVER!” or, were we not at work, a visibly raised middle finger. That’s not what ho hum means to me (or, it seems, to nearly everyone on the web). So I’m asking a question: who among you has heard ho hum used in this manner? Who uses it thusly? The answer will help settle an ongoing argument about the vigor of youth vs. the merits of age.

— Otto E. Mezzo