Last week, two news items brought diversity to The Lima Newsí headlines.
The Ohio Democratic Party criticized Gov.-elect John Kasich for selecting white, male Republicans as his first five Cabinet members. And Lima councilors scrutinized the cityís efforts to recruit minorities into civic jobs.
Letís not kid ourselves: American government is dominated by white men. They hold the majority in nearly every governing body. They founded this country. They remain disproportionately present wherever official power is present.
But that doesnít mean our government isnít diverse. Because race isnít everything when we consider culture. Background makes a world of difference, and individuality goes a long way.
When I look around the newsroom, Iím the brownest person by far. To my knowledge, everyone else could be classified as white. Thatís one Persian and 33 whites. And, according to standardized tests and the Census, Persians are white.
But when you cut a slice deeper, you see more than half the newsroom is women. We also have Christians and nonbelievers. We have Ohio natives and out-of-state transplants. We have reporters in their 20s and editors in their 50s.
We have veterans, gun nuts, Republicans, Democrats, former drug users, heavy drinkers, nondrinkers, healthy, diseased, straight and gay. So, yes, weíre all white. But we arenít all the same.
In Kasichís case, he was criticized after picking only a fraction of his complete Cabinet. Granted, Gov. Ted Strickland amassed a respectably diverse Cabinet, but his achievement doesnít mean a Kasich failure. We know Kasichís picks follow a pattern, but as each person is different, they are bound to have different viewpoints and experiences.
When hiring a new page designer a month ago, editor Jim Krumel and I never discussed our desired race, sex, religion or political affiliation for the hire.
If Krumel had said, ďWe need to hire a black woman. We donít have any of those in the newsroom,Ē I would have walked out of the room. Why should we expect anything different from our state or city?
And it isnít just at The Lima News or City Hall. The U.S. Census says Lima is 85 percent white and 12 percent black, which is roughly the racial makeup of our City Council. So itís safe to say non-Hispanic white people are the majority in our fair city.
So a concentrated and funded effort by Lima to hire more minorities baffles me. Why artificially sway the racial makeup of our work force? How can we know an ethnic minority or woman will add any more diversity than a white male?
Essentially, weíre thinking in backward terms from a bygone era. Racism still exists. Sexism still exists. Iíve seen them with my own eyes. But Americans are shaped by far more forces than before. We move all around the country, grow up with different numbers of parents and are exposed to the world via the Internet.
Playing a numbers game and plugging color-coordinated holes to fill a quota wonít get us anywhere. Hiring the best person for the job will. And, in the case of Lima considering $7,500 a year to boost minority recruitment, it might save us a few bucks.