The Importance of Diversity

indexMartin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just another holiday from school or work. It is a day when we reflect on equality, public service, and the value of diversity in our culture. In honor of this day, our Teen Ambassadors reflect on what diversity means to them, and share some of their favorite books that have helped them understand the world a little better in this light.


helen

Helen, Edmonds Library

Diversity is what makes America so special. America is this mix of cultures and ethnicities. Like how every individual has their own strengths and weaknesses, each ethnicity brings something unique and beautiful to America. Unfortunately, the election resulted in a surge of racism and white supremacy. I am in awe at just how divided our country is. In order to become a more peaceful and unified country, people need to love each other, despite our differences.

Our nation was founded by immigrants. Remember that the settlers who “founded” America were immigrants too. As Ronald Takaki put it well in his book, A Different Mirror:  A History of Multicultural America, “‘We the’ diverse ‘people of the United States’ transformed America into a mighty economy and an amazingly unique society of varied races, ethnicities, and religions.” Also, Hamilton, a beautifully written musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, cleverly explains how America was truly founded by immigrants.

As a daughter of two Chinese immigrants (who are now American citizens), diversity is so important to me. Throughout my life, I’ve faced discrimination and racism, but I’ve always assumed that these anti-ethnicity sentiments were not significant problems in America (among adults). But to see so clearly from the election of this widespread hatred for people is so heartbreaking and eye-opening.


anna

Anna, Camano Island Library

Diversity is very important for every person, and for many reasons. Throughout the past, white, straight, christian people have had by far the most representation. In modern media, representation and diversity of others are typically lacking, whether the category is race, sexuality, orientation, or culture. Wherever you look, the little diversity there is tends to be stereotypical, if existent at all. This is why there is starting to be so much pressure on the creators of shows, authors, and artists to give minorities representation. Good representation.

Reading suggestions: Love in the Time of Global Warming and its sequel The Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block, as well as Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder.


kathryn

Kathryn, Lake Stevens

 To me, diversity can teach someone about another person’s belief or culture. Instead of expressing hatred because you do not understand, you can learn more about that religion or the difficulties that the person may come across. In this day and age, tolerance towards others really does show. Schools are not segregated and they even have “GSA clubs” or a safe place for students who are a part of the LGBT community to have a safe place. I have many friends who are part of the LGBT community, are different races, and have different religions they believe in but I really do respect that. 

Reading suggestions: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Blue is The Warmest Color by Julie Maroh.


jonathan

Jonathan, Lynnwood Library

Diversity means difference. Diversity offers a colorful and exciting variety to the world. It gives us choices. A great book that talks about diversity is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In the world of Harry Potter, diversity can be found in society where there are Muggles and Wizards. There are many ways we can react, but we should always respect diversity.


laura

Laura, Mukilteo LIbrary

Diversity is a magical and beautiful thing. To some, it means cultures thriving together and learning from one another’s differences. To others, it is a threat that they do not fully understand. They cannot see that accepting something they cannot personally identify is the first step to a world filled with peace. Our generation is more focused on diversity in media and culture. We are here to protect minorities, stand for those who have a voice that is unspoken and support a world in which we can coexist.

Reading suggestions: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough and When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore


grace

Grace, Monroe Library

America is full of diverse cultures, religions, ethnicities and walks of life. I think diversity matters, because every living being matters. We all have different backstories and beliefs, which we should embrace. Diversity is a beautiful thing, and I believe we should all be educated on what makes us different from each other. Learning about different cultures and religions is so important, and I feel in America we have such an amazing opportunity. Diversity is all around us, and we need to not be blind to it. We don’t have to believe in what others believe, but we need to respect them as human beings.

Reading suggestions: Weedflower and Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac.


daniela

Daniela, Camano Island Library

Diversity matters to me because of how rare it was for me to see representation in media and books growing up. I have been a long time book lover and easily had a collection of several hundred books but I can only think of one book that I read from K-8 that had a POC protaganist. While I enjoyed reading, I never felt there was any character I could relate to. Today, I’ve tried to embrace more about my family’s culture, and Latin Americans in the United States. I’ve read a fair number of non-fiction books about Latino Americans but fiction, YA, Sci-Fi, etc books? I’ve read four and not for lack of looking. Growing up, I always felt disconnected from the stories I was reading because I felt drastically different from the main characters (but struggled to define why). I have yet to a read a book with a biracial Latina character but one can hope.

Reading suggestions: Interpreter of the Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.


angie

Angie, Mukilteo Library

In biology, diversity and/or genetic variation are crucial to life. In everyday life, diversity is what allows individuals and cultures to interact and learn about each other. Cultural diffusion stems from diversity and promotes expression as well as acceptance, whether it be of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, etc. Embracing differences creates a society where understanding and empathy outweigh threat-perceptions and security rhetoric.

Reading suggestions: Bitter Melon by Cara Chow and She Rises by Kate Worsley.


hannah

Hannah, Brier Library

Diversity matters to me, because a lot of people are criticized for being different than others. The way we view each other shouldn’t be based on how we look, what we identify as, or who we want to date. I wish more people thought like this and had this outlook on life. As Americans we have several different race groups, religious groups and social groups, no one should ever be judged based on those beliefs because we are all entitled to have them. It is one of our constitutional rights to be able to think and feel what we would like. Each culture has their own distinct differences and how they act based on those beliefs. All of my friends are from different ethnicities and religious views, I would never judge them based on that. Becoming friends with someone never depends on how they look, etc. it always depends on their personalities. If everyone just took a minute to get to know someone and not be so quick to judge we would be living in a completely different world where most everyone got along.

Reading suggestions: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


dani

Dani, Lynnwood Library

Diversity matters so much to me, because no two people are exactly the same. I love the fact that our community is so different, but has many smaller subgroups that all share something in common. But I also do recognize that in order for our community to peacefully function/work together, we have to accept people whose culture/personality/looks/identity/sexuality/etc. are vastly different from what we are (or anything we know). For example, I did not know anything about the LGBTQ/SAGA community until recently– I used to just assume that sexuality/gender identity were either straight and gay/male and female. In reality, it’s so much more than that. Diversity is so important because we can learn from each other and see life through the eyes of someone who has experienced different things than you. Recognizing and embracing the differences between yourself and others helps you grow as a person and become more open minded (if we refuse to accept these different cultures, we’re just sheltering ourselves from the world. We will never truly understand why people do certain things if we don’t accept them).

Reading suggestions: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin and Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz.


caroline

Carolyn, Mukilteo Library

Diversity movements in the media have been gaining momentum in the last few years, with hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite and #ImNoAngel, but what about in literature? A lack of diversity is especially prominent in my white, straight, and conservative private school. I feel that being exposed to the theater community at a young age has definitely shaped my views on diversity and tolerance. Diversity is the reason America was once nicknamed “the melting pot.” America is a blend of so many beautifully different cultures, races, religions, sexuality, and perspectives, so why haven’t we learned to be accepting of them yet?

Reading suggestions: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.


 

Tags: , , , ,


Comments

Leave a reply