DIVERSITY

"We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color."

~Maya Angelou

Diversity

"the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization"

Merriam-Webster, n.d.

"The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun;

then moved back again toward slavery."

~W.E.B Du Bois, Black Reconstruction In America

 

This quote from Du Bois illuminates the intense struggle African Americans have faced - and continue to face - from the time they were forcefully brought to America as slaves. After the Civil War, African Americans experienced only "a brief moment in the sun" as free men and women until the racists forces ingrained in American society depressed them back into slavery. History shows us that every civil rights advancement for African Americans has been met with backlash and attempts to negate this progress. The most obvious example of this is the rise of Jim Crow following the end of slavery.

 

Slavery and Jim Crow were systems of control established to maintain white power and privilege over African Americans. As Michelle Alexander eloquently describes in her book, The New Jim Crow, these systems of radicalized social control "have been achieved largely by appealing to the racism and vulnerability of lower-class whites." Racism continues to this day, not because whites are biologically inclined to racism, but because the environment in which we live and grow up teaches us - directly and indirectly - to carry an Us versus Them mentality. It is only through a change in language and environment will we as a society begin to lessen racism, which starts with diverse and inclusive organizations. 

 

Be it school, work or other community groups, a focus on the diversity of different races, cultures, genders and thought will help erode a racist environment. However, we should not expect this change to happen as fate. In other words, we can not expect racism will simply fizzle out as older generations pass on. We as a society must be deliberate in ensuring true diversity occurs in all areas of our lives. Without a prudent push towards social inclusion, we will likely fall victim again to the oppressive forces seeking to maintain the power hierarchy that has been in place for centuries. So, choose to contribute to this push, and make diversity a pillar in your life.