While reading the Goshen Bulletin (a magazine published by Goshen College, Goshen, IN), I found this page a bit on the ironic side.    The headline reads “GC is committed to increased diversity.”  Most excellent.  I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of that claim.  It’s just that they choose to put a very large picture of their very white director to the left of the headline.  To the right of the headline they put a picture of the Alumni board.  While we don’t know the ethnicity of the three members not present, those present look (and again, looks could be deceiving) very white.

What is the piece of information that will pull this graphical disaster out of the muck and mire of institutional racism?  This year they are going to have a Multi-cultural Alumni Luncheon on Homecoming!  That’s the lead?  The article goes on to talk about strategic plans, approved vision statements, statistics that say GC is better than others, and plans to gather minority alumni to gather input.

We communicate in many ways.  I find the words, sentiment and the intentions are spot on (i.e. I do not doubt Goshen’s commitment to increased diversity).  Yet the overall message is one of white institutional power and token solutions.  I would have to give Goshen College a C- on this particular attempt.  If anyone from Goshen is reading this, the next time around pair stories about diversity with pictures of that diversity in action.  Otherwise the whole story becomes an ironic gesture that makes your commitment to diversity seem more like a language game.

On the heals of the PR disaster which was Goshen’s handling of the Star Bangled Banner issue, this is minor.  Yet, it did hit me smack between the eyes and I wonder how many others had the same impression.

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3 thoughts on “

  1. Mike, I served on the Alumni Board for 3 years and the director at that time was an African American woman. I am sure there is a reason why the photos appeared the way you see them. If the observation is important enough to put on your blog for all to see, I think it would be good to directly communicate to the college rather than leave it to chance that a representative might see it or even a 3rd party pass it along. Ron

    1. Thanks, Ron. Like I said in the piece, I have no reason to doubt Goshen’s sincerity, or that they are doing a good job in terms of creating a multi-cultural community. My take was more from a PR/communication perspective. I saw my post as an observation about how sometimes the words we use and the images we pair them with tell different stories. Do you think my insights in this case would be of value to Goshen?

  2. Just found you after reading THQ this week. Will be a regular reader….I keep thinking about starting my own blog, but doubt I have much to say that you and others aren’t already tackling.

    I am an intern minister in the United Church in Saskatchewan, Canada. I am always keen to connect with justice-seeking people! Blessings on your work, Michele Rowe

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