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Opinion
Pankaj Mishra

West Needs New Ideas, Not Just New Voices

Increased space for minorities is welcome, but shouldn’t be confused with genuine intellectual diversity and openness of thought.

A fine gesture but not enough. 

A fine gesture but not enough. 

Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Mainstream, middle-class Americans and others have in recent months developed a keener appreciation for the merits of “diversity” and “inclusivity.” U.S senators have taken a knee to protest police violence — a gesture that ended a major sporting career not that long ago. Ralph Lauren Corp. has resolved to have Black, Latinx and Asian workers comprise 20% of its global leadership. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences now requires that films competing for its Best Picture award have diverse casts and crews.

Still, increased space for minorities should not be confused with genuine intellectual diversity and openness of thought — what is harder to achieve but is absolutely essential as we confront a world drastically altered by the coronavirus pandemic.