Diversity in My Everyday Life

I am not a person of color. I am not a person with significant disabilities. I strive and work towards being an ally to all sorts of under-represented people. I’m not the one to judge if I am there yet. All I can do is try.

I thought about this over the weekend when I heard an interview with Kasi Lemmons, the director of Black Nativity on NPR. I’m not thrilled about Christmas movies, or family movies at this point in my life, though I’d go hear Angela Bassett read the phone book. I thought about why. Well, it sounds like a good cast with great music.

One of the strongest arguments for affirmative action (and it breaks my heart that its become a negative expression), is that all of us need to see diversity. And diversity is more than color of skin. So I ask myself, and I ask you to ask yourself, not just how many friends do you have of a different color, race, religion, or language, but how many friends do you have (not family!) who are at least 20 or 30 years different in age from you? If your children have left home, how many grade school kids do you know? If you have toddlers, do you know and talk with any teenagers? How many friends do you have who are not able-bodied, and in a wheelchair? How many friends who are cognitively different? Who have speech or language difficulties? When is the last time you went somewhere with only stairs and thought about what friends couldn’t do that with you?

One of my personal strongest commitments is to people with disabilities. The physical barriers are often like separate water fountains and sitting at the back of the bus. The ADA is like the civil rights legislation of the 60s. Both still need work in implementation.

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