There’s no end of discourse around the existence and persistence of “casual racism,” or the idea that white supremacy fits so comfortably into our routines and realities that it’s simply second nature. From
repeatedly pronouncing non-Christian names improperly to blaming someone’s habits on their nationality, casual racism’s gnarly roots run so wide that we’ll never eradicate it totally.
But move over, casual racism. There’s casual diversity, too. Of course, there’s the purposeful diversity. The “Diversity Mixers” that the local Chamber of Commerce throws to appease business owners of color, the unity rallies, and the book clubs that meet to discuss The New Jim Crow all have their place for fostering discussions about the causes and effects of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or nationality.
Casual Diversity, though, is equally as intentional but nowhere near as academic, self-praising, or potentially socioeconomically exclusionary. It’s just as relaxed, commonplace, and second nature as casual racism, except….not racist. It’s inclusive. It’s chill. Here’s some basic guidelines, although by no means, an inclusive list of ways to practice casual diversity:
- Everyone pronounces everyone else’s name correctly, if not on the first try, for sure by the second try.
- Religion, geopolitics, and the present administration are never topics of conversation.
- Nobody mocks accents or facial features. Ever. Under no circumstances is this permitted.
- Dietary restrictions of any kind are fully accommodated, and the cook doesn’t complain about how hard it was to plan around them.
- Nobody assumes another person’s tastes in art, music, or fashion based solely on melanin count, ethnicity, or nationality.
- The ONLY TIME it is ever appropriate to correct someone’s English grammar is when the grammatical issues truly deeply impede your ability to understand what they want you to know or take from the conversation. Otherwise, if you can figure out the message, the grammar did its job. Move on.
- Everyone gets a turn on the aux cord.
- If it comes to your attention that something you said made someone else uncomfortable, you thank the person for informing you, apologize, and don’t say it again.
- You may make jokes about your own race/nationality, and only about your own.
The most important part of casual diversity? Group selfie lighting. With so many skin tones, the real key is to get into some shade and focus on the person whose skin tone is the most average of the group. You’ll still likely need to do some photo editing magic, but the group selfie lighting issue is the only downside I can find to casual diversity.
Spend more time with your friends of color, and be both intentional and chill about it. Boom. Done.