Photo obtained from http://www.rooshv.com
The challenge for every culturally and racially diverse society is the need to embrace all people within it. Indeed, this is the way diversity works. It is far more meaningful than the numbers, than meeting the quota. A truly multicultural or diverse society upholds an honest love for all people and their various cultures. Diversity is a beautiful thing and it only makes sense when it is done right.
While quite a number of countries are impressively diverse, this does not mean that they are very inclusive. Diversity encompasses different spheres – it is not just first acceptance or – your ability to enable migration to your country, your ability to provide social services for everyone regardless of where they came from or what they look like, your self-appraisal that you do not discriminate but accept all. A huge sphere of diversity that is often forgotten is the need to understand that everyone is just as significant – irregardless of whether they are called visible minorities or immigrants – and that their cultures are also important. Speaking from my own experience as an immigrant living in a Western society, I feel like there is an unconscious, constant persuasion for the the newcomers, the marginalized, to ‘assimilate’.
There are all these assumptions that – with all the bad news that comes from Nigeria, coupled with the Western media’s one-sided portrayal of Africa – coming to Canada must have been my ultimate redemption. I see how people with foreign or non-Canadian accents are treated and spoken of. There is pressure on the so-called other to dissolve into a melting pot. I have heard that there is no Canadian accent. While the sentiment of such a statement is appreciated, I do believe that honesty is the best policy.
In the United States, diversity blooms yet there is still so much racism. Unarmed black people are killed by law enforcement officials on the premise that the unarmed black person could somehow have been harmful, just because of his or her skin colour. Of what use then is diversity, if people are not free to be who they are?
Diversity to every society should mean more than using the faces of people of different skin colour on a billboard advertisement, more than boasting about the numbers of Asian, Black, White and Syrian people that reside together in a western society. It is beyond feeling blessed to be from a diverse society, it is beyond being accepting of more opportunities at diversity, it is beyond first-compassion for people who are seeking to migrate to flee war or poverty. These are all important but an ideal diverse society, must be one that also gives way to people to be who they are – to speak how they have always known to speak, to dress how they have always known to speak, to be proud of their skin not scared of what it may bring unto them. Diversity needs to be done right.