“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” –Maya Angelou
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. Author and inspirational speaker, Ola Joseph concurs, “Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.”
Those of us that grew up in the 70s and 80s or were parenting at that time, might recall the School House Rock cartoon, “Great American Melting Pot.” As you read the excerpt of lyrics, below, you may even remember the tune…
You simply melt right in,
It doesn’t matter what your skin.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from,
Or your religion, you jump right in
To the great American melting pot.
The great American melting pot.
Ooh, what a stew, red, white, and blue.
The Melting Pot concept shifted; our diversity is more like a tapestry. Rather than melting in together and losing the unique properties of individual ingredients, the tapestry concept allows us to maintain our authentic threads; becoming part of the tapestry encourages the vision of an intricately interwoven fabric that is stronger, tells a collective story and is more beautiful because of the variety of threads.
Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and religion etc.) are more innovative than homogeneous groups. When viewed positively, diversity does not create problems; it helps solve them.
Anita Moorjani is a New York Times best selling author of the book Dying to be Me, speaker and intercultural consultant for multinational corporations. Moorjani says, “In the tapestry of life, we’re all connected. Each one of us is a gift to those around us, helping each other be who we are, weaving a perfect picture together.”
We are fortunate that Chesterfield is home to a diverse group of people. Let us not think of our differences as barriers but rather embrace and appreciate each other’s unique threads that create our own rich tapestry.
Yours in Community,
Elizabeth “Libby” Mullen