Brian C. Mahon ’04 | September 3, 2020
More than I can recall from the recent past, this year has been rife with calls for increased diversity and inclusion. I write this on the heels of a nearly two-hour work presentation on the subject. I came away with the same fundamental questions and irritations I’ve always had — and the only ones on which I have any perspective to offer. I have difficulty consolidating the ideas of race and diversity with my personal background.
My father was Irish-Catholic, and the generations of Mahons, Kanes, Casserlys and Doolans before him could be traced to late 19th century Ireland. My mother, more succinctly, immigrated from Chile in 1972. Because of this, I’ve always had a simple this-or-that sort of mentality when it comes to race. Following this meeting on the need for more diversity and more inclusion, I had to ask myself: “What meaning do these statistics have describing the composition of a workforce? What does it mean to say that there are 84 percent Caucasians in an organization? What does the organization mean when it refers to ‘diversity,’ and what does that word mean to me?”
When I first arrived at Notre Dame in 2000, I think the racial demographics were something like 80 percent Caucasian, 10 percent African American, 10 percent everyone else. Don’t quote me on that. It’s been 20 years, and it is an approximation. Either way, I had a laugh at the thought — and being from South Florida, wondered what I got myself into. But the experience wound up being no different for me than back home. It was like high school with more khaki cargo shorts.
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