With Black History Month having just passed in February, and now the celebration of Women’s History Month in March, it only seems fitting to discuss the importance of diversity.
The term “diversity” is often used in the workplace to promote greater inclusion of individuals who identify as part of a diverse population. According to Merriam Webster, diversity is, “the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, etc. in a group or organization.” While this is the technical term, I believe that diversity means more than just “inclusion.” Diversity is about both recognizing and openly acknowledging that people are different, and understanding that our country and the world are full of diverse people.
According to the 2019 United States Census Bureau, 13.4 percent of the US population identified as Black or African American, 5.9 percent identified as Asian, 18.5 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino, and 2.8 percent identified as biracial or of more than two races. These percentages were derived from 2019’s estimated U.S. population, which was 328,239,523 individuals. Clearly the United States is full of diverse individuals, so why does it feel like diversity is continuously overlooked and swept under the carpet in certain areas of the U.S.? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to this question, but I can tell you what I do know.
Diversity is something to be celebrated. We should be celebrating, growing, and learning from one another, because there is nothing more humbling than learning about cultures you didn’t grow up with,places that you have never been, or experiences you’ve never known. In my experience, it is often the people who come from diverse backgrounds that you can learn the most from, and who have the most refreshing perspectives on life. After all, if you only surround yourself with people who are like you, how are you ever going to learn new things? That is why it’s so important to celebrate diversity and to educate others about diversity. Many people have never traveled outside the U.S. or been exposed to different cultures, and I believe that as diverse individuals it is our duty to educate others about diversity.
When I was in high school, my cultural background was not something I easily shared with other students. My father is American and my mother is Hispanic, but growing up, I never really saw myself as different. It was not until I arrived at college that I first acknowledged and understood my diverse background. At first, it was something I didn’t like to talk about. It felt personal to me, something I felt no one else would understand. However, as I began immersing myself in environments that encouraged conversations about diversity, and about sharing your experiences, I realized that who I am and where I am come from is not something I should hide. With time, I realized that diversity is something to celebrate. It’s something we should openly share without shame, fear, or regret.
Diversity is about understanding that we are all different from one another. We all come from different places and speak different languages, but this is not something we should divide or separate ourselves by.
Every person you’ll ever meet is going to be different. No two people are the same, and that’s something we all need to understand. Being different is not something to be ashamed about. It’s the things that make us different that also make us unique. It is because I am both American and Hispanic that I can understand both worlds. That I can not only understand what it means to be an American, but also what it means to be a Latina. And because I have continually placed myself in environments that promote diversity, I have become more educated on what diversity means. It is because I have exposed myself to two different cultures that I can openly say I am proud to be an American, but I can also say that I am proud to be a Latina.
I believe that is what diversity is about. It is about openly acknowledging that you are different. It is about learning that it’s okay to come from two different cultures. It’s okay to come from two different places. It’s about learning that no matter where you come from, your voice matters.
But it is also about learning that we should be listening to everyone’s voice, regardless of whether or not you agree with them. Because oftentimes it is the people who disagree with us that can teach us the most about ourselves. If we could learn to accept each other for who we are, if we could teach ourselves to learn from one another, to celebrate our differences, rather than divide ourselves, I believe the world would be a much better place.