Given things going on in the US right now, my mind has been processing diversity. As I think about it, I’m evaluating other words such as multi-culturalism, ethnicity, desegregation.
After thinking about this, I’ve almost come to the conclusion there isn’t anywhere you go where you can’t find it. Some may disagree right away, but just hear me out. No matter where you go in America, well, maybe not your family dinner, there is diversity and multi-culturalism.
It seems as though whether a place is diverse or not is determined by walking in a place and just looking around. Can this truly be a measure of diversity? Somehow, we’ve decided the diversity of a place can be determined by the color of skin tones we see.
I have Italian friends who look Caucasian. I have friends who are Hispanic but look Caucasian. I have friends who are Puerto Rican but look Caucasian. I even have friend who are African American and look Caucasian. Trust me, if we are all in a room together – there is diversity and multi-culturalism – there just isn’t a huge spectrum of skin tones.
Let’s say you walk into a place and see a whole lot of “yellow” skinned people, we look around and we determine there isn’t any diversity. But this is America. Just because everyone shares the same skin tone, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I think about James, from Big Brother, look him up if you don’t know who he is. How can we determine the diversity of a crowd just by skin tone? He obviously doesn’t fit our typical demographic profile of a yellow skinned person, now does he? By the way, so called yellow skin doesn’t seem yellow to me – is it just me? *shrugs*
Even considering the word multi-cultural. Again, color of skin tone does not reveal culture. So why do we keep moving in this direction? Why do we keep using our eyes to determine whether something is diverse or multi-cultural?
Let’s define our terms here:
Diversity = the state of being diverse; variety. Multi-cultural = of, relating to, or constituting several cultural or ethnic groups within a society. Ethnicity = the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition
Again, this is America. We can walk into a gathering place and see all black skin, but the truth reveals its self as we begin to get to know the people. It’s highly unlikely we will find there isn’t any diverse, cultural, or ethnically differences among the crowd. Black skin tone doesn’t mean you will like rap, you could love opera, right? That would be diversity. There could be French, Spanish, and English people in there. There could be Texans, South Carolinian, or Iowans in there – that would be diversity.
I’m trying to figure out why we keep looking at people’s skin tones. I’m not arguing there isn’t some discrimination because of it, but it seems the key to overcoming it is to stop looking at it. It’s the whole pink elephant example. If I tell you not to think of a white elephant, what do you do? Of course, you notice I not only made you think of a pink one, but a white one as well. So when we say, stop looking at color, all we can do is look at color.
When you look at me you see a white person, why? I am not just white, I am also red. I have a significant amount of American Indian in me. I also have German, Irish, Scottish, and English in me. If I am in a room by myself, there is diversity. lol Well, maybe not?
Here’s are some other things I ponder:
Why am I just called American and others are called African American, Asian American, West Indian Americans, Turkish Americans, Armenian Americans, Arab Americans, Iranian Americans, Asian Pacific American, etc? Why aren’t we all just American? It seems to me, if you were born in America, you are American. Only the 1st generation in America should be classified this way, because they truly are. For example, if you were born in China, come here and become American, you are now Chinese American. But your children would just be American, at the very least, the 3rd generation – just like me – who has an Irish grandfather and an English grandmother. Why am I not defined as Irish, but there are those born 4th generation in America still defined as Hispanic or Latino? Or, for consistency, if that’s the way we want it, then everyone should have multiple classifications, shouldn’t they? *scratches chin, but which grandparents ethnicity would I pick?*
Maybe we should all just start checking off OTHER on surveys – seems a good start to stop racial profiling on paper, no? I mean, what is the purpose in knowing this information? What does it really tell us? Or let’s get to the truth, if we still have to have the check boxes, shouldn’t they read, red, white, black, brown, yellow, olive etc? And even then, it’s complicated. Some of us would have to get a second opinion on which color we line up with better. *rolls eyes*
Why does media only cover discrimination of certain skin tones and not others? Why don’t we hear about the slums of the Appalachians, Show-Low, or Skid Row? Shouldn’t we just care because a human is being repressed? Why should we care more about one skin tone than another? *shakes head slowly*
I have friends who are mixed race. Yet if they enter a room where they look like everyone else, people would assume there isn’t any diversity in the room, right? Is there or isn’t there diversity in the room? With this comes questions like these: Why is President Obama considered black, and not white? Do we just ignore his mother existed? Or should we have ignored his father existed? What box does he check off? If he is in a room full of dark toned people, is he considered the only white guy? If he is in a room full of light toned people, is he considered the only black guy? *scratches head*
And if we want more diversity, then why do we look for places where we fit in, instead of going to a place where we are the only one creating the diversity we want? Shouldn’t we look for a place where we are out of place in order to begin creating diversity there? Isn’t this exactly what those who have made breakthrough in our past have done? Even when it comes to gender, didn’t women break into positions historically only for men because there was one women who was the first woman to do it? That one women began a chain of events which led to truly diverse environments. Infiltration – look at all the areas women can work in now, it’s a proven formula.
Here’s another thing I’ve noticed, and I really don’t mean to offend anyone … but I’m sure I will, so I guess I will apologize now. *Can we truly apologize in advance? *one eyebrow raised. And again, let me say, this is not about discrimination – I agree there is discrimination based on skin color. But here goes … it almost seems to me, the people who want others to stop looking at the color of skin are usually the ones talking about the color of people’s skin. In doing so, they then make people who don’t typically think about the color of someone’s skin, think about the color of skin. Thus creating the very situation they are trying to eliminating. Just like the elephant! *sigh*
Myself for example. I really don’t think about skin tone color. Honestly, I don’t. I know it’s hard to believe but I don’t. I was telling someone about a new job I had, this person was a dark toned person (which I didn’t notice until after their comment) and they said, “Oh yea, that’s a mostly black church isn’t it?” I had to stop and think, was it? Truth is, did it matter? And if so, why? Why do we define them this way? Why don’t we say things like: “that’s the church with very traditional music isn’t it?” Or “that’s the church who’s music is hopping isn’t it?” Or, “that’s the church with a choir isn’t it? Is it really the tone of skin which defines why people attend there? *perplexed*
In fact, because of all the talk going around, I took time to think about my friends. Honestly, I didn’t realize how many colors of friends I have – it’s awesome. Prior to this, I just had friends, now I have colored friends. 😦 There was one other thing I noticed in doing this reflection, I must be very discriminatory in my selection because I don’t have very many authentic red headed friends, I think I might have to go make some. *grin*
If those of us who want a better world can stop looking at the skin tone, stop talking about it, and start just seeing other human beings, we might start to make a small difference, little by little, in the world around us. It won’t make discrimination go away, I get that. It won’t make life easier on those who are discriminated against, I get that. But it might just do it in the future, you never know.
As a last little note, the one danger we need to be careful of is loosing our own cultural heritage. I still think it’s important to pass down traditions and customs so our grandchildren’s grandchildren can appreciate them. And for me personally, I would love to share in some of those with friends. I’d love to experience an authentic Jewish Passover, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, or Epiphany. This would ensure the continuation of cultural and ethnically differences, part of what makes America, America.
Diversity – let’s stop focusing so much on skin tone, and start focusing on and embracing true cultural differences, it’s where the richness of America comes from.
He says it very well: