Diversity is more than physical differences

Diversity, equity and inclusion have become the holy trinity of the 21st century across K-12 educational settings as well as college campuses and workplaces in the United States.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental to our nation and collective existence. They enhance our cultural competence and nurture a more accepting world that understands the strengths each of us brings to the table.

In the United States, the world’s most richly diverse nation, we boast a plethora of languages, cultures, traditions, values, religions, skin colors and more.

Over the decades, we have taken tremendous strides towards inclusion, and while we’ve come a long way, there’s still further to go.

But while diversity of skin color, religion, culture and language are important, Americans are losing touch with one of the most important types of diversity we possess: diversity of perspective, thought and opinion.

Americans in 2022 have grown timid when it comes to this valuable type of diversity.

There is an invisible fear of being offensive, saying something wrong, or having an unacceptable opinion.

To be polite, we keep to ourselves and refuse to engage with one another in meaningful, mature ways.

This is a disservice to diversity, as it prevents the rich exchange of ideas, values and perspectives for fear of hostile retaliation.

When we as a people fail to see the value and adopt the principles of diversity in our thoughts and perspectives, we sink deeper into our ideological trenches and wait for others to tell us what to be angry about next.

If we truly appreciate diversity, we must reach out and realize that our fellow citizens are not adversaries that must be annihilated, but human beings like you and me with a voice and a vote.

There are some who confidently claim this kind of diversity is not welcome in America, that we don’t need to listen to others who think differently, and that we don’t need to acknowledge their positions or even validate the experiences and environments that help form their current political positions.

Once again, this does a disservice to diversity. No matter your affiliation, diversity of thought must become commonplace once more in a mature manner.

This diversity must not only be tolerated but encouraged for us to learn about who we are as a people, for people can’t learn honestly about one another if they don’t engage with those they may disagree with.

If we can see beyond the stereotypes, the acrimonious adjectives and the hateful rhetoric, we can begin to understand each other.

A major misconception is that we have to agree on absolutely everything to work together, learn together, grow together. This is one of the biggest lies our country has come to accept, and it is our collective responsibility as Americans to transcend this barrier to progress.

Currently, we have Americans who want diversity, but only diversity of their own opinions. They want inclusion, but only inclusion of their own ideas.

There is more than one perspective, and one thought, and embracing that kind of diversity must return to our collective civic discourse.

This is no easy feat, it’s far simpler to allocate angry emojis to a comment section and call it “civic engagement.” We like our stereotypes, our divisions, the lies we tell ourselves about others.

Diversity can save us from this if and only if we make the very intentional decision to remove our blindfolds and see the true beauty that lies in diversity’s depth and multifaceted complexity.

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