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How can we make it better?
94
? No more special pleading
There was also a strong consensus that the term cultural diversity had been too
narrowly interpreted as meaning special pleading for a few. What was needed
now was to broaden the issue out and find a common language that was about
improving programmes and working practices for everyone and which didn’t
favour, or marginalise, any particular group. There is no intrinsic reason why we
should need special programmes or special employment schemes targeted at a
particular group in order to take part in the National Conversation. These merely
underline the continuing failure of the broadcasting industry to address its own
dysfunctional working practices. We need to turn the spotlight away from
minorities and look at what the mainstream industry is doing to keep so many
voices unheard.
? True cultural diversity
Several people suggested that the term cultural diversity was redundant, having
been so often misused to describe ethnic minorities; we are all culturally diverse.
Others felt the phrase actually embodies all the right ideas but we’ve just lost
sight of them.
Each of us belongs to many different and overlapping cultural groups. These are
defined, for example, by our generation, our gender, our social network, our
employment, our geographic connections, our religious and ethnic origin, our
sexuality, our health, our education, our interests and our politics. These cultural
groups may be based on shared values, shared history or common experience –
being gay or disabled can link you to a cultural group as much as being
Liverpudlian Irish or Liverpudlian Chinese. It’s about life experience, not skin
colour.
Speaking as someone who has been somewhat converted to blind
culture and disability culture, I find this life really cool. I like being a
subset. I like exploring my new found disability heritage. I like the
difference. I like the gadgets that come with being blind. I like
illegally downloading books in the online blind underworld scene. Of
course I do. It's a rich sub-culture. I get off on it. It's part of me, I'm
part of it” Damon Rose editor of the BBC Ouch! Website
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We live at a time when more and more people are moving out of the rigidly
defined cultural groups they were born into and where the boundaries between
many different groups are becoming more porous. (A nice example is Markie
Mark, presenter of BBC 1Xtra’s Panjabi Hit Squad, who is English but grew up in
the Punjabi community in Southall and developed a taste for the music of his
Asian friends.) 
In few other places on earth are people travelling across so many cultural
boundaries of geography, religion, class, ethnicity, discovering new and varied
identities for themselves. The stories of those journeys are filled with often
startling new insights into how we think, behave and feel as human beings. At
times the cross-cultural journeys may be fraught and messy but all offer different
lenses through which our own experiences can be refracted, ideas on how to
navigate our own journeys better and how to forge new shared identities in our
communities, as a nation and as global citizens.
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