Why is diversity so important?
The other day I had the opportunity to assist in giving a presentation to a local service organization about the importance of diversity in Huntington County. Honestly, this made me feel a bit sheepish. I felt (and looked) very young and number of years calling Huntington my home. Am I still considered an “outsider” and not given the right to be telling community business persons something that they have probably been told of for their entire lives? Coming from the University can also bring baggage with it. Some folks probably think that an idealistic concept like diversity is great on a university campus but out at Wal-Mart, Crestview Middle School or Taco Bell, diversity is nonsensical and unncessary.
But I also felt sheepish because I don’t feel that I understand the necessity of diversity enough to be considered a champion for its implementation. I’m a good participant but not leader. Believe me… I would like to be a champion, to stick my neck out, to do my best to convince others of why we need to have persons who are different from us speaking into our lives but I am often aware of my own confusion about diversity and, worse, my own racist attitudes. I know all of the “right answers” about diversity but I’m not sure how internalized they are. Moreover, I’m afraid that what I can communicate about diversity will only generate responses like, “That’s nice, dear” or “Bless your heart” or “Diversity is only a good idea on paper” or “I used to think that way but now I know better”.
Primarily, I want to understand the necessity of diversity so that I would act and think rightly but I also wish that I could compel others to live and think rightly as well. It would be nice to make people mad once in a while, to challenge people to examine their thoughts and behaviors that are unjust. I want to move beyond participant to leader, from discussion-leader to practitioner.