“How to ‘do diversity’ when you’re lazy, ignorant, and/or malicious” by Tamika Thompson

Photo: Andrew Reilly

1. Throw around toothless terms like “diversity” and “inclusiveness,” while ignoring the fact that whiteness is at the center of your initiative.

2. If the notion of “diversity” is ever challenged, or if anyone suggests using the term “equity,” tell them emphatically that “equity” sounds too community organizer-ish and will scare people away (and by “people” you mean “white people,” but don’t say that part out loud).

3. Refer to people of color as “minorities” in all of your literature. Make sure the term is bolded in all PowerPoint presentations.

4. Use the terms “non-whites” and “minorities” liberally and interchangeably. When a “minority” tells you that both terms are problematic and/or offensive, stare at them blankly for five seconds, turn red, and say that you did not intend to offend anyone. Your intention, of course, was simple clarity. Make the discussion all about your feelings and, more importantly, your intentions. Your intention is the only thing that matters.

5. Tell jokes about “minorities” to “minorities” to show you’re “down.”

6. Promote “minorities” to non-leadership roles. Pat yourself on the back for all of your success at “diversity” during the next team meeting.

7. Set up a potluck and invite people to bring a dish from their culture.

8. At the “diversity” potluck, sample only the food you recognize and refer to the “minority” dishes as “interesting,” “exotic,” “vibrant,” or just say, “Ah, yes. I’ve read about this.”

9. Use the phrase “diversity hire.”

10. Organize “dialogues” in which everyone must speak calmly, ensuring that their perspective is able to be “received.” Have a safe word for when the organizers of the “dialogue” are feeling under attack (and by “organizers” you mean “white organizers,” but don’t say that part out loud).

11. Host a “diversity jam” with live musical acts from various cultures. Ask the “minorities” to teach you how to do their dances.

12. Put together an industry conference with fifty panels on general topics of interest to everyone in the field. Populate those panels with white people.

13. At the industry conference, designate two panels as your “diversity” panels.

13a. Make the topic of the first “diversity” panel, “The need for diversity within the industry,” and populate it with white people. If anyone asks you why the “diversity” panel doesn’t have any “diversity,” tell them that there are women on the panel (and by “women” you mean “white women,” but don’t say that part out loud).

13b. Make the topic of the second diversity panel, “Life within the industry as a minority,” and populate it with African American people and only African American people.

14. Pick three HBCUs that you once heard of somewhere and focus your recruitment efforts on only those schools.

15. Pretend to know what the acronym HBCU stands for. Don’t bother looking it up.

16. Read National Geographic to learn about “other cultures,” especially “tribes.” Share what you’ve learned at the next team meeting.

17. Establish a “diversity cookbook.” Make sure the editors are white.

18. This time, with no sense of irony or shame, make homophobic, transphobic, and/or misogynistic jokes while talking to a “minority” to let them know you both have something in common.

19. Fist bump “minorities,” and pepper your conversations with “bro” or “My man.” Get familiar with the expressions “mami,” and “You go, girl.”

20. Give blank stares to anyone who uses the following terms: cisgendered, able-bodied, white privilege, neuro-typical, patriarchal, misogynistic. Do not engage. Do not look up the words you don’t know.

21. When a “minority” tells you that diversity and inclusion are euphemisms for tokenism, tell them how offended you are by the assertion. Heatedly argue your point. If the “minority” raises their voice, call security. When the authorities arrive and ask why you called, say “I feel threatened. Isn’t it obvious?”


Tamika ThompsonTamika Thompson is a writer, producer, and journalist. Her fiction has been published by Glass Mountain, Literary Orphans, The Matador Review, and Huizache, among others. Her non-fiction has been published by The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Huffington Post, MUTHA Magazine, and PBS.org. She lives in the Chicago metropolitan area with her husband and daughter and is at work on her first novel.