We are privileged to live in the most diverse culture and country of our time; The United States of America. Our country’s origins were based on the concept of diversity. When the colonists came it was to find the freedom to practice their own religions without persecution. This paved the way for others to come here to practice their own religions. They were Lutherans, Catholics, Quakers, Jews, etc. Our country began as diverse collection of religious faiths.
Today, when people hear the word “diverse” they immediately think you are referring to someone who has a higher level of pigment in their epidermis. Others will say being “diverse” relates to your heritage and background, or that it is both referring to ones pigment and heritage. The truth is that diversity is SOOO much more than that. Every single person has their own unique experiences and adds to a diverse society in their own way. The problem is that society places too much of an emphasis on our skin color and our heritage. This has begun to dominate how we treat each other, and things have gotten out of hand. Many people today have begun to use their heritage or skin color as a reason for entitlement and to take advantage of others. This can be found in people of all races, and has lead to the use of “diversity” as an intimidation tactic when arguing about many different topics such as immigration, war, social services, and especially education. America has come far in its 230 + years of existence, but we still have a long way to go.
We need to take a stand, here and now and tell America what diversity really means. Diversity is so much more than just your heritage, skin color, and religious beliefs. Diversity also incorporates our political beliefs, sexual identity, sexual preferences, hair style, hair color, height, weight, class, etc. We should all be proud of our background and heritage but shouldn’t let that dictate how we treat one another. If we all agree that we were “Created Equal,” then one person can’t be “MORE” diverse than someone else. Does Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution not emphasize the equality of all American citizens? Does is not establish that no one citizen of this country is higher than another?
When one person looks at another person, they should not be worried that they might offend them because of the person’s skin color, height, or sex. This shouldn’t be the first thing that enters the persons mind. They should simply view the person standing before them as another human being who is just as unique and diverse as you are. We need to all stop and check ourselves right now for any hate, resentment or reservations we have for someone else because they seem different, because guess what, we’re ALL very different from one another. There is no class, workshop or focus group that can truly help us to reach the mindset of accepting true diversity unless we ourselves choose to.
Promoting and celebrating our cultures and choices is a good thing and should be encouraged, but not to the point where we are doing this at the expense of another persons’ beliefs. We need to be of the mindset that no one heritage is greater or more important than another, and everyone should feel welcome in these conversations.
In closing, I leave you with this. Diversity is composed of everything that makes us who we are. Instead of looking to be acknowledged for it, we should simply wish for respect. “Treat others, as you yourself wish to be treated.” If our society can begin to gravitate towards this mindset, we would begin to tear down so many barriers that have been set up to prevent us from achieving this goal. We must not forget the goals and dreams that such great leaders and pioneers of diversity such as Martin Luther King Jr. did for his country. As he said in his most famous speech,
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”