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Diversity is a word you hear often – “we need more diversity in the workforce,” or “we live in a diverse community.” But what does this really mean? The Oxford Dictionaries Online states that some key words of diversity include difference, variety, and variable. Diversity refers to those human differences that make us unique and set up apart from others. Diversity can include differences in skin color, personality, language, and much more.

Any exploration of diversity should start by looking inward and examining our first judgments about others who are different from us. Exploring diversity in our world is a way to expand and help us see a fuller picture of those around us.

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 19, 2015, we need to ask ourselves “What am I actively doing to promote the courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that defined Dr. King’s spirit and energy?” “What am I doing to promote and encourage diversity?”

What quotes will inspire you?

Think about and practice quotes which will encourage you to promote diversity. In the words of M. Scott Peck, “Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.” Senator Edward Kennedy said “What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.” “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength,” according to Maya Angelou. Yuri Kochiyama knew what he was talking about when he said “Don’t become too narrow. Live fully. Meet all kinds of people. You’ll learn something from everyone. Follow what you feel in your heart.”

Did you know?

  • According to the Human Genome Project, people are more than 99.9 percent identical at the DNA level.
  • According to smartplanet.com, the top most diverse cities in 2011 were found in California followed by Washington, D.C., and New York City.
  • Youth with disabilities are among with poorest and most marginalized of the world’s young people. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates 98 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school, and 99 percent of girls with disabilities are illiterate.
  • The hunger relief organization Feeding America tells us that one in every six people in the United States is hungry every day.

What are some important questions to ask and discuss?

  • How do you define diversity?
  • How did you form your definition of diversity?
  • Why is diversity important to you and your future?
  • Why is it important to recognize the similarities and differences we have with others?
  • How have you actively show sensitivity to those with disabilities?
  • In what other ways do you think your life is different from someone your age but living in a different part of your community or United States?
  • How might you handle another person’s views on politics or a controversial topic that differs from your own?
  • What does equality mean to you?

Where can I find some resources on Diversity?

What’s one final thought about Diversity?

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Remember, we can all keep that dream alive within ourselves, our families and our communities. Continue to dream because diversity is the source of our strength!

Written by: Janet Wasko Myers, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, Madison County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:

Diversity: The Source of Our Strength, Ohio 4-H Project Book 372, The Ohio State University Extension, http://estore.osu-extension.org/ or available through your local OSU Extension office.

http://www.multiculturalchildrenslit.com/

http://sophia.smith.edu/~jdrisko/multi.htm

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