I attended a short talk earlier in the week where an educator was speaking and he said something about diversity that I haven't been able to get out of my head.
"Diversity is not an accomplishment, it's just a demographic."
I feel like so many people, myself included, have been unsuccessfully trying to say the very same thing for a while except when we tried to verbalize it, we just ended up sounding like prickly, ungrateful dicks asking for too much. This is why I love this particular quote so much. It's just the right amount of polite with just the tiniest kick in the ass imploring us to do better. So let's deconstruct it.
If you're not the majority, odds are you think about diversity quite a bit. For me, as an Indian woman who hopes to work with young adults living in underserved communities, I think it about constantly in one way or another. Our present political climate is fraught with all kinds of horrors, but I will not say that I haven't seen the city I live in and its occupants become more aware and change for the better. I think diversity in the workplace, in our classrooms, and even in the books that are published have been made a priority. In fact, we have been actively working on it for so long that it is no longer an accomplishment.
Let me try to explain this without giving you a headache. I think promoting diversity and supporting inclusion, whether through diverse ideas, cultures, religions or otherwise, is great. However, I don't think it's an accomplishment. Yes, I agree that we've come a long way if we're breaking off into the realms of racism and equality, but diversity shouldn't have to be stressed. It should just exist.
But I know I'm asking for something that is impossible. I'm asking for organic simplicity. A basket filled with wishful thinking. But we can't go back in time, so let's be productive by being in the present. To me, the quote means that diversity is nothing new, it's simply a demographic, not a solution. And I think what captivates me most about it is that it is screaming at us to question: where do we go from here?
If diversity in our schools and places of work is not a success but instead a state of being, how do we move beyond that? I think the answer is different for everyone depending on their beliefs and environment and if I'm honest, I don't really know what the right answer is, but I enjoy the challenge of searching for it.
Indulge yourself and slide into a place of wishful thinking.
When I think about moving beyond diversity, I see myself in a library picking up books for a program to introduce to my teen patrons without worrying if they feel represented and equal because I know undoubtedly they will be. When I think about moving beyond diversity, I think about opening up the floor for conversations that transcend what people once identified as otherness but no longer remains. When I think about moving beyond diversity, I see the word tolerance chipping away from our daily vocabulary.
When I think about moving beyond diversity, I see us no longer talking about needing more of it because there will no longer be a lack of it.
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