Diversity is beautiful, but it’s not as simple as a sunrise or sunset. We don’t just “appreciate it” or “not appreciate it.”
What is diversity?
It’s not as narrow as some people might think.
I was recently describing what I missed about New York when I lived abroad. This was one of the things that came up for me:
That diversity where no one yet everyone stands out, all at the same time.
It’s a feeling we get when we walk down the streets of New York, aesthetically speaking. It’s the beautiful mosaic comprised of all our different features and forming a constantly changing, unique and complete whole.
But it’s also my vision for how we appreciate the beauty in our diversity:
🔮 By shaping a world where no one is made to feel they don’t belong for looking, thinking, believing or being different, and everyone’s uniqueness fits in without needing to smudge or blend away what makes us, us.
The diversity of my city; our city.
Diverse in the City®️.
Will you join me?
Diversity. Inclusion. Belonging. All big concepts with different interpretations, different ideas on how to achieve them and different value placements on achieving them. “Belonging” is probably the easiest to agree on it’s desirability, no? Most of us want to feel we belong; not conform, but belong.
These principles in the abstract can leave us feeling frustrated. Yes, we get it, but how do we get there? How do we get to the place where we feel we belong (in this workplace, this family, this community, this new country, this world)? It depends on others, but it also depends on us.
For me, I need a reference point:
Can I point to a time when I went from feeling like an outsider to feeling I belonged, and what was it about that place that helped me feel a part of?
I always think of New York City when I think about belonging. Not just because I’m from here, but because it has a way of “taking” us. Not everyone can take New York, but it sure as hell can take each of us. Sounds harsh, but quite the opposite. It’s acceptance.
❓If you moved to New York from elsewhere, or even if you spent some time here on a visit, does this quote ring true for you?
❓Can you remember a city or an environment where you felt an instant belonging, and why do you think that was?
These answers can help us develop practices to foster inclusion in different settings, as well as shed some light on our own expectations when we are trying to belong.
Is Times Square the symbol of New York City?
Some love it; some hate it. I like it, partly because it represents different things to different people and elicits such strong feelings either way.
And isn’t it like that with people too? When someone holds themselves out as a symbol of a particular group’s experience, or is held up as such by others, people tend to have some strong feelings about it.
❓How do you feel about any one person held up as a representative or symbol of a people’s experience?
❓How would you feel if people looked to you as such a symbol?
I’m not talking about role models who set an example for admirable behavior, but symbols of a people’s collective experience, views or desires?
I am not a representative of the Latina experience. I am not a representative of the American mentality. I’m not even representative of New Yorkers. I’m just me.
I am also very weary of anyone being hailed a symbol of “my people” (however we define “my people” in a particular context) if I didn’t specifically sign off on that representation for a specific issue or purpose. That’s just me 🤷🏻♀️.
🌃 As for my city, I think of the New York City skyline at night as the symbol of NYC. I love how all the lights from inside the buildings that make up that NYC sparkle are the individual lives of the vastly diverse people who make up . . . New York.
❓Is there a symbol of your city you feel strongly about, and why?