Mar 12, 2009

Diverse definitions of diversity

Moving from multi-ethnic Commercial Drive to all-white small-town island bowling league - that was a fear before coming here, and a question I was asked yet again just tonight. But diversity , we got it, lots of it. Just in Galen's grade one Waldorf class of 24 we've got kids and parents from Korea, China, Armenia, Ghana, First Nations, Bulgaria, Germany, England, and Italy, as well as various parts of English and Francophone Canada.

And why is diversity always defined, at least to start with, by race and colour? In the same school parking lot we have a fabulous diversity in terms of professions (business owners, garbage truck driver, bush pilot, army lawyer, accountant, farmer, stay-at-home parents, nutritionist, childminder, yoga instructor, carpenter, teacher, retired circus performer...), religion, education, money, rural vs urban (former and current lives), commuters and home-office folk, divorced/together/single parents and one set of 4 co-parents, etc etc. One day last week it was all dads doing the noon kindergarten pick-up. Sarah took a fermentation workshop from two of the moms, and I go to vocal improv class led by another mom.

But even with that broadened scope of "diversity", it still sounds an awful lot like "I've got a black friend." The measure of diversity is not something you can count, but something you live, or rather how you live. It's about how open I am to learning about and from other people. How often and deeply I am challenged in how I view and interact with the world. How many times someone helps open my eyes a little wider, thinking "I've lived for almost 42 years and never thought that or that way before." How willing I am to sit with someone who maybe makes me feel uncomfortable.

So tonight I sit in this predominantly white town and lift my water glass to the patchwork diversity that colours my world. There may not be a great burrito or Ethiopian joint in town, but there's certainly a rich tapestry of peoples and cultures to learn from and grow with.

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1 comment:

  1. As a white South African, born of Canadian father, with Swiss Italian wife and children who have the choice of four nationalities, I enjoyed this one... Thanks, Rick.