Diversity Statement Advice

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Diversity Statement Advice

Postby r3k790 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:30 pm

Looking for help on the diversity statement. Since my socioeconomic background is not really distinguishable from all the other upper middle class white males applying to law school, I've tried to spin my political/personal identity as a kind of diversity. Oy.

I grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, a town which defines itself as the one place in the Chicago-area where white-flight never happened. A socially, economically, and racially diverse community, Oak Park has long been a liberal stronghold. The overwhelming majority of its citizens are dyed-in-the-wool democrats. The contrarians are generally neo-conservatives who get mugged by their conscience every election-day; they wind-up voting democratic against their better judgment. In Oak Park, the consensus is that taxes should be high, government services ample, and that rights to personal expression should be interpreted broadly, so as to include a wide-variety of behaviors. The Oak Park of my youth was a place where a number of teachers declined to participate in the pledge of allegiance, and where so many students participated in the Day of Silence that it was effectively an in-school holiday.

Though Oak Parkers often think of their town as a liberal utopia, it is clear to those raised there that all is not well in Oak Park. In grammar school, Oak Parkers of every race and socio-economic status learn, play, and eat together, often becoming friends. For those younger than twelve years old, Oak Park really is an example of “post-racial America.” Upon entering adolescence, however, Oak Park youth are thrust into a social situation that engenders racial and economic segregation. The reason for this rapid change is that in 7th grade class placement is based on test performance for the first time. Since a serious achievement gap exists between African-American and Caucasian students in Oak Park schools by the time they leave elementary school, the new standards for placement imply that a majority of students in the higher tracks will be Caucasian, while a majority of students in the lower tracks will be African-American. After 7th grade, students are socialized less and less frequently with students of other races, to the point where late in high school lunch-tables are usually monochromatic. It becomes unusual to say hello to childhood friends in differently tracked classes when walking through the halls.

Because I was taught from a young age that the place I came from stood for social equality, and because this identity becomes problematic in adolescence, political self-understanding became for me both highly important and highly troubled. Growing up in such a community, I felt an urgent need both to categorically reject and to unconditionally accept the political beliefs the town exudes. I reconciled these conflicting drives by becoming what Richard Rorty called a “Liberal Ironists,” a person of strongly left-wing persuasions who does not commit to the absolute or ultimate correctness of their beliefs. I learned to be skeptical of my own first impressions and ideas, despite the stridency of my views. In thinking about policy and legal frameworks, I will proceed critically, trying to identify unexpected consequences. My mind will remain open to all sides on an issue, and will try to understand how that issue interacts with others. This intellectual disposition, forged in Oak Park, would be a unique addition to the community at X school of law.

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Re: Diversity Statement Advice

Postby Moomoo2u » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:09 am

It's an interesting idea. I would be very careful with how you approach it and with what you say, stuff like "as a liberal utopia, it is clear to those raised there that all is not well in Oak Park." (I could see how someone could construe this as not liberal = all is not well) and discussing the discrepancy in african american test scores are dangerous places to tread.

In terms of actual writing I think you could spend about 1/2 the time talking about your town/school and its liberal ideas (day of silence is repetitive etc etc) and more time on the ideas you develop in your last paragraph. As it is, I think you mush all of your ideas/thesis into 3-4 lines in the last paragraph and they come out muddled.

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