Society features

Diversity is necessary in society | Features

Living in a small town near the crossroads of America’s Heartland, we who live in Owensboro/Daviess County and the surrounding area may not consider ourselves a very diverse people.

When it comes to the many and varied ways people can be diverse (such as race, ethnicity, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, ability, religion and philosophy, to name a few), no two of us are alike.

While it’s easy to recognize these differences, we can’t understand the experiences of others, says Dr. Monnica T. Williams, associate professor in the University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology, without also recognizing the diverse degrees of social stigma or embedded privilege. in their identities.

Stigmatized identities, she says, are more likely to face disfavor and exclusion, while privileged identities are tied to favor.

Therefore, discrimination based on the identities mentioned above is both common and often prohibited by law. At the individual level, people have very little control over which of these identities they possess.

Although some degree of change is possible, most people are born with or socialized into their race, culture, gender, socio-economic status and sexual identity, and as such no one should be stigmatized or privileged on the basis of these identities. only.

Race and ethnicity are among the most stigmatized types of identity in American culture and determine many characteristics of life, such as where you live, what type of school you attend, how many money you will earn, who you will marry and if you are more likely to be incarcerated, and so on.

Although our culture places a high value on non-discrimination, individuals react to others based on their presumed racial and ethnic identity.

Meanwhile, due to changing fertility patterns, immigration and globalization, our society is becoming increasingly diverse. According to US Census data, more than half of young people under the age of 21 are children of color and most births are ethno-racial babies.

This same census data indicates that by 2044, non-Hispanic whites will be another minority group. So diversity happens whether we are ready or not.

The demographic changes taking place are seismic in nature and magnitude.

Will our expressed values ​​of fairness match our implicit biases and explicit behaviors?

To answer these questions, we must first understand, as Dr. Williams argues, that there are several dimensions of diversity that impact our view of the world.

In an attempt to raise awareness, most workplaces and educational institutions offer seminars and education programs on diversity and inclusion. The reasoning is that if we learn more about diversity, we will appreciate it more and be less likely to harm or offend others through our biases, conscious or unconscious.

Although there is a noble intention and all organizations should receive this training, raising awareness is only the beginning; it is not enough to change our consciousness. Additionally, and unfortunately, many diversity awareness programs fall short of their stated goals.

Second, there is tolerance, which is the level of a person’s ability to recognize and respect the values ​​and differences of others. Being tolerant means accepting diversity and not expressing negative attitudes towards different people.

Discriminatory but tolerant people can justify that they at least do no harm to others.

Consider that the word “tolerate” implies that something is painful and harmful, even, but that it must be endured.

Tolerance reinforces the idea that by putting up with all this stressful diversity business, a person can become immune to it. This mentality takes us away from valuing others and is subtly destructive.

Maybe you attended an event to celebrate diversity.

There is food, ethnic music, traditional clothing, souvenirs, flags and relics from other cultures.

While celebrating is much better than tolerating, it nevertheless oversimplifies and underestimates entire groups of people and cultures. News from fraternities, in the name of “celebrating diversity,” threw “blackface” parties, and deceivers appropriated entire cultures with their Halloween costumes. Merely “celebrating” does not bring us closer to mutual understanding.

Fourth, leveraging diversity, which means learning what each person has to bring to the table and actively using their specific skills, perspectives, and characteristics in order to become more effective as a group, community, or entity.

When viewed in this way, we learn to allow the diversity of our environment to benefit all.

Leveraging Diversity recognizes that differences are not a threat, but are actually a valuable asset – a resource, not a liability. We are enriched by the diversity of our work environments and our social networks.

Fifth, when we embrace diversity, we not only truly recognize and appreciate differences, we are willing to immerse ourselves in places marked by those differences to experience all it has to offer.

Embracing diversity allows us to meet others in a true moment of connection and caring spirit. We are thrilled that there is so much to learn, love, understand and share with each other.

We can focus on human commonalities while simultaneously embracing differences in appearance, culture, values, and experiences.

Finally, and most importantly, we must demand diversity.

When we no longer imagine a world marked by similarity in culture, thought and appearance, those who demand diversity not only recognize, tolerate, celebrate, exploit and embrace racial, ethnic, sexual, religious and cultural, but they demand it and as such they come together to rebel against homogeneity, with the aim of honoring what is holy and unique in each person, culture and tradition.

There are those who are threatened by difference.

There are others who are enlightened by it.

You decide how you want to treat others.

And that becomes yet another difference that we must recognize, tolerate, celebrate, exploit, embrace and, yes, even demand.

Do not demand similarity.

God doesn’t. Look at us.

Dr. Jonathan Eric Carroll, KLPC, NCPC, NCCE, is a state-licensed mental health professional, is an ACPE psychotherapist, and is the founder of The Clinic @ The Montgomery, a center for therapy, parenting coordination, d custodial assessment and business consultation in downtown Owensboro. Dr. Carroll is also a grief therapist for 10 area funeral homes. To visit www.themontgomeryclinic.com.

Dr. Jonathan Eric Carroll, KLPC, NCPC, NCCE, is a state-licensed mental health professional, is an ACPE psychotherapist, and is the founder of The Clinic @ The Montgomery, a center for therapy, parenting coordination, d custodial assessment and business consultation in downtown Owensboro. Dr. Carroll is also a grief therapist for 10 area funeral homes. To visit www.themontgomeryclinic.com.