Brianna White

Staff member
Jul 30, 2019
I recently read an insightful piece in the Atlantic by David Brooks, which delves into the evolution of the "American personality" over the last 50+ years. Brooks suggests that up until the 1970s, people defined themselves by their roles within a community, such as being a farmer, teacher, or housewife. However, this communal mindset shifted towards a more individualistic one, emphasizing economic and lifestyle freedom.

Interestingly, Brooks notes that we have returned to a more communal culture today, but it's quite different from the past. This new communalism is defined not by what unites us, but by who we perceive as our enemies. This shift has been characterized as "vindictive protectiveness" and "hostile solidarity," terms coined by Jonathan Haidt, Greg Lukianoff, Carvalho, and Chamberlen in their respective works.

As someone deeply involved in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), I find these observations particularly relevant. I've seen how DEI practices can sometimes stray from their intended purpose and even become harmful. Instead of fostering positive communities built on mutual respect and understanding, we're seeing the rise of hostile identity groups defined more by their perceived enemies than by common goals or values.

This shift towards hostility and antagonism has also seeped into the discourse around DEI. It's crucial that we recognize these changes and work towards creating a more inclusive and respectful environment. Let's strive to build a community that values diversity and inclusion, not one that is divided by perceived enemies.

I encourage everyone to reflect on these observations and consider how we can contribute to a more positive and inclusive culture in our organization.

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