“Your eyes only see color if you want to see color.”
I decided to write this blog, because I have realized that diversity is something that people think they understand, but do not know what it really means. Now, I am no expert on this topic, but I have observed so many things in my lifetime, that it even changed my view on Diversity. When I was in college, I had to write a 100 page single spaced page paper on any topic that I wanted. I picked something that was close to me, “Diversity.” Why? because it was something that I noticed that people did not understand, something that is easily misunderstood. I have learned that there are so many types of Diversity out there, but I am going to talk about three of them, that stuck out to me the most. I will explain why I picked these few as I continue this blog. The three types of “Diversity” that I am going to talk about are: Cultural, Race and Who are you diversity.
The first type is Culture Diversity, this type is about how you were raised, the family you grew up in and the set of norms you were expected to follow. The next one is, Race Diversity, this one is like Cultural diversity and focuses on a group of people based on their physical features. I have noticed that some jobs want to have a certain amounts of African Americans, Caucasians, Asians and so on just to meet their numbers. I will explain what this means further in this blog. The last one I am going to talk about is, the “Who you are” Diversity. This one is who you are as a person. No matter what color you are, where you come from. This type of diversity is harder for people to understand, because it does not have a physical form, but a emotional and spiritual form. Something that some people cannot see. Something that you have to show others, and help them understand.
This first type of diversity is called “Cultural Diversity.” As I did more research on my paper about this type of diversity, I came to realize that there are so many cultures in the world. So many that we do not know about and yet, so many that we do not understand. Culture diversity is a set of norms that we are expected to follow and were raised by from family or people around you. For example, I am Native American, I was raised a certain way, to believe that my elders are to be respect. To respect the lands and honor my family, I went to so many ceremonies and so many spiritual rituals, because that is how I was culturally raised. Yet, in my adult life, I find it hard to follow my cultural ways. This type of diversity can be good for you, but it can also lead to so many bad things in your life. This type of diversity can tear people apart and bring people together. I picked this as my number one diversity, because you want to see how you raise your family. You teach them to believe certain norms, act a certain way. To help them understand their family history, you even make family trees. You expected your children to follow what they are taught and you teach them what you were taught as a child. This one, is something that has torn me apart, because as I continued to grow, my family stopped taking me to ceremonies, stopped teaching me the languages and now as an adult, I do not even know how to teach my children how to understand who they are and where they come from without expressing hate. Like many children in the world, sometimes cultural diversity can bring pain and harm. When I think about my culture, I think about how the hate has grown, how we stopped doing our traditional ways. Cultural diversity can be so strong and it can be so weak, that is why I chose this as my number one diversity, because sometimes all we want to know is where we came from. Cultural diversity is also hard for others understand, they see your foods, clothing even your parenting style and do not understand what you are doing. The misunderstanding towards other cultures is very strong. I once saw a post about a “sky ritual” where people fed their “dead” to birds and such. I did not understand what they were doing, but it was apart of their culture. I could not yell or scream or hate those people , because that is their traditions.
The second type is Race Diversity. I picked this one as my second type, because it affects so many people. This type of diversity is considered a simple view of diversity to most people. When people think about diversity, they think about the color of your skin and what you look like. Not who you are as a person or what you want to be. I have observed some business/jobs hiring people and not hiring people, because of the color of their skin, this has hurt so many cultures. This type of diversity make you feel honored for you are, but it also can make you feel ashamed of yourself. I find myself sometimes hating the color of skin, because as I do job interviews or talk to businesses about myself and accomplishments, they see the color of my skin, that is all they want to see. I have not been hired at jobs, because the color of skin. I have not been accepted into places, because the color of skin. I have been hated in school, because of color of skin. When I was on a hiring committee, I was told that we had to hire a certain amount of African Americans, a certain amount of Asians and so on, before the end of the year. Just to make our business look good. We were so desperate to hire, that some people that were brought onboard, who did not even meet the qualifications were hired, our managers did not care. As long as our numbers were meant in this type of Diversity. This is the only diversity that people see. This is the only one that is easiest to see. This is the type of diversity can cause riots and hate throughout a diverse country. Working in the education field, I found that so many children were labeled a certain way, because of the color of their skin. When I was in 5th grade, I was put aside with the rest the “Natives” in my school, because of the color of my skin. When I was a 3 year old preschool teacher, I had student who was native american and other teachers would tell me that I should not waste my time on this child, because he was in abusive home and he would grow up to be that way. These are just prime explains of people just seeing the color of the skin as an opportunity or as judgement. Another example I have would be, when I moved to Texas, I would hear the phrase, “What color skin were they?” I was taken aback, because I had never heard someone base another persons actions on the color of their skin. I was not angry or upset, I realized that so many people are quick to judge and this opened my mind to different people’s views on diversity.
The last diversity is called “Who are we” diversity. I actually named this one myself, because it falls into all the rest of diversity in the world. This one talks about who you are as a person. Not just what you look like, but what you bring to the workforce, what you do, how you live, what you look like and who you become. This covers everything you are as a person and what you want to be in your life. I learned that this one is the most important type of diversity, because it is the one that people have trouble seeing. Let me explain why. Since I am Native American, people assumed that I am someone who hates the government, someone who steals, someone who lives in a torn down reservation, someone who cannot afford food. Is that who I am really? No. I was none of those things. I went to college, live an average life, had a meals to eat. I have never drank in life. I did not even live on the reservation, but yet, that is how the world saw me as. I had to prove myself in the world, I had to prove that I was not someone they believed, yet this is not enough. As we explore more into this type of diversity, we began to see that it is not only based on the color of you skin, or how you were culturally raised , but on how you choose to be, what you want your life to be, from sexual orientation to Gender, our society has changed so much, sometimes we have a hard time keeping up with this. Even businesses look at their numbers and wonder how they will keep up. We all live a certain lifestyle based on how we want to live, no matter our background, how we were raised and what society thinks about us. This can be hard for others to understand, take same sex relationships for example, in many cultures, this can be frowned up or hard to understand, yet many people choose to live this way, because that is their diversity. Some people may view them as bad people or wrong people, while other may see it as a good change. That is okay, we all have our own different views on people life and if they live differently than we do, it can be a good thing or a bad thing in our society.
You can be born with a certain color of skin, live a certain way, but that does not mean you have to be that person? The world told me I had to live a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain person. This may have worked on so many people before me, but as many other people around me, I began to see that I could do something different. Make a change. My sister fell into this type of view, the world told her she had to take drugs, join a gang and hate Caucasians, why? because she is Native American and we were taught to hate, we were never taught anything else. It was hard to see her fall into this type of diversity, but I realized that it is how she wanted to live. We find it hard to see how people act and do certain behaviors, sometimes we have an opinion on their actions and try to force them a certain way, because we do not fully understand this type of diversity. I was upset, because I did not understand my sister. I did not understand how she wanted to live. Why she wanted to live that way, with so much hate. But, from reading and researching more on this topic, I come to realize that her way of life is how she choose to live. Like many people in the world, we have our own opinions on how we want others to live, how we believe they should live. This is an example of having trouble seeing others diversity. It is not a physical thing or a color thing, it something that we cannot feel and that is what scares us. As more people are put into this world, they will bring a new type of diversity that can be added to long list of diversities. Diversity is not just the color of your skin, but it is also who you are a person. What you can bring into this world, what you can show others. You stand up for your views and your diversity, because you want to show the world who you are. Sometimes this can cause a positive impact and a negative impact.
Let me explain this from a business perspective. Imagine you are put on a team, a team 10 people. What would be the first thing you notice about them? Their hair? the color of their skin? How they act? Many people see many things, I would see character and action, yet my friend next to me might see the color of someone skin and the person next to them might see something different. This is not something to be mad or angry about, it is just their diversity. Sometimes, we think about these things without even knowing we have thought about them. As I write this blog, I find myself asking my African American friends, who I never saw as African American about their view on diversity and who they are as people. I felt uncomfortable asking these questions, because I was raised to see no color. I was told “Your eyes only see color if you want to see color.” Even, I was learning something new about myself, putting myself in uncomfortable situations to help others understand. A business sometimes has no choice, but to see color, they have numbers to meet and some want a diverse group of people, even if it means they hire outside their qualifications. I am learning this as continue to my life, I am learning that there are times you need to see color and it can be hard to ignore. Businesses are made on stats and charts on different colored people, not who they are, but the color of their skin. Businesses see skin color, because that is how our society is formed. They need to meet numbers and raise/lower their stats. I find myself not being hired at certain jobs, because of the color of my skin. I was once told “We have enough diverse people right now, thank you for interviewing with us.” This is the sad reality of our society, we have formed it in way that all we see is color.
At the end of all this, I realized that I have learned to much about diversity. I have learned that diversity is not based on color. We live in a society that judges you on your color, stares at you for your color and judges you based on your culture. People find it hard to understand that not all African Americans are the same, not all Asians are the same, not all people are the same. We may have the same color skin, but we all have our diverse life that we bring to this world. That is one thing that people do not see as a diversity. You do not control where you are born, what color skin you have, what culture you are born in, but you can control who you become in your life.