Steve Sioma’s letter to the editor (“How should students learn DEI?” Clarkston News, November 17, 2021), questioning the implementation of DEI in schools and denigrating the importance of diversity in our society, is a perfect illustration of the importance of promoting DEI in our schools and society generally.
The letter inherently contradicts and undermines Sioma’s sales pitch to abandon all this push for fairness and inclusion. The letter simply whitewashes the historical realities of settlement in this country.
Sioma’s historical references in support of his anti-DEI arguments are glowing, but only to the unsophisticated reader. His description of Native Americans embracing newly arrived Europeans is simply a whitewash, painting over the full, comprehensive picture of the nation’s history with Native Americans.
Sioma derides diversity, insisting that the nation is a “melting pot” of cultures, as many of us have been taught, but he ignores the discrimination, oppression, and hardships many early, voluntary immigrants, experienced as they were assimilated. The discriminatory experiences were not limited to Africans forcibly transported here; Jews, Irish, Hispanics, Eastern Europeans, women, and many others did not meld smoothly into the purported American melting pot.
Many were coerced into assimilation, or suffered with secondary roles, with fewer resources, opportunities, power, and rights than privileged others, simply because that was the way it was. Skin color, gender, parentage, and social class were significant factors in determining how one’s life would be.
America is not a melting pot. America is more like a delectable stew, where individual ingredients thrown into a pot maintain their individual integrity while combing with other ingredients to make a more sophisticated, enticing, nourishing and valuable commodity.
Patriotic Americans do embrace truth, transparency, fairness, and equal opportunity for all.
Let’s hope our children are trained to think critically and ethically, to separate fact from propaganda, to recognize when facts are twisted or omitted in otherwise persuasive arguments.
This is the best way to ensure that America remains great and becomes greater in an increasingly complicated and, likely, more dangerous world.