In spite of decades of diversity policy and practice, America is in many ways more divided than ever when it comes to issues of identity. Critics from the political left argue that we simply need more diversity to overcome the division, while critics from the political right argue that diversity has devolved into an unworkable set of unfair entitlements that are themselves the cause of the division. Understanding the Misunderstanding, the first part of the four-part series Ourselves Among Others: The Extravagant Failure of Diversity in America and An Epic Plan to Make It Work, explains the sources and causes of the social divide in America, and also shows how neither the political left nor the political right have understood the problem or offered meaningful solutions. As this book shows, the short answer is that we've been doing diversity wrong all along. What is needed is not more diversity, but rather a different diversity, one that works fairly and equally for all of us.
According to the US Supreme Court, the primary function of diversity is to provide a "robust exchange of ideas" among different identity groups to facilitate the creation of an integrated American society. But rather than a robust exchange of ideas, we more often have rancorous shouting matches, or even worse, long periods of resentful silence. And rather than an integrated society, we have one that seems to be disintegrating right before our eyes. Understanding the Misunderstanding is a lively, accessible, and provocative read that speaks to both the political left and the political right. It says what needs to be said, what others have been afraid to say, and offers bold solutions for vexatious problems. Anyone with an interest in race relations, identity politics, social justice, or the current state of American democracy will want to read this book.