Diversity Training


When I first heard about this I just had to lawl.  Employees are ordered to attend a diversity training course after someone shows up to a company Halloween party dressed as President Obama.

I used to scoff at diversity training (having been subject to a number of such company-mandated courses myself) on account of it being rooted in such flagrantly collectivist ideology.  I mean, WTF happened to the message I grew up with in the eighties and early nineties — that everyone should be judged on an individual basis, and race/gender/sexual orientation/whatever is essentially irreverent?

But I’ve since put away my outdated bias and come to embrace the ethical pillars on which diversity training ultimately rests: that there are no individuals, there are only members the group, and that some of these groups are inherently superior to others — or at least, they deserve to be treated in such away.  Ability is irreverent.  Education is irrelevant.  Individual merit is irrelevant.  Any achievement that has not been reach by a team effort is also irrelevant.  There is no ‘I’; there is only ‘we.’  We are the Borg.  You will be assimilated.  Resistant is futile.

Ahem.  Yes, now whenever I hear talk of diversity training courses, I think of this, and it makes me lawl:

When a dimwitted newspaper editor is ordered by the Board to complete
a diversity training course, he enters the classroom with an open mind.

I wrote the earliest version of this story around 2007 after my father told me a horrifying tale of a man he used to know through work.  This gentleman was apparently ordered into diversity training after the government agency for which they worked began receiving complaints about him making comments deemed “potentially offensive” to women and minorities.  Never mind that the man was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s — his potentially-offensive remarks warranted him to be singled out for some special training.  In a nutshell, he ended up completely destroying an entire office by hiring individuals who were unfit for the job, purely on the basis of their inclusion in protected minority groups.  He wasn’t being facetious or trying to “stick it to the man” — he genuinely did not know any better.  He ended up retiring, and it took the agency years to undo the damage this man had caused.

Needless to say, the tale inspired me to write a story.  (Satire is one of my specialties.)  However, I wasn’t fully satisfied with the final product because it felt as if something were missing.  I ended up rewriting the story from scratch in 2011 after having spent a good three years working at the headquarters of this very same government agency.

Every character in this tale was inspired by real people I’d met at the agency, right down to the drooling simpleton called Sidney and the dwarfed maintenance men.  Diversity Training was originally published in Dante’s Delirium and Other Fairytales From Hell, and it is now also available as a free-standing work.