Diversity should mean more than meeting a quota


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.



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Thought Things Out & … It’s Actually The Nigerian Extremists That Are Losing

Wednesday, July 23rd marked 100 days since the Chibok school girls of Nigeria have been in captivity. They were kidnapped in April by Boko Haram – a group of militant, Islamic extremists based in Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram when translated to English means – Western education is a sin.

The group became infamous in Nigeria a few years ago. Back then, they specialized in killing Christians. However, after a while, they started killing all forms of Nigerians – Northerners, Christians, Muslims and also, youths who are getting educated. Boko Haram, since the kidnap of the Chibok school girls, has become the shameful highlight of Nigeria – the country nicknamed the Giant of Africa. The extremists are shaming Nigerians, making us appear weak and as I have heard, they have even made some of us refugees. I would have never imagined that a Nigerian would become a refugee because of violence. Note: I lived in Nigeria uninterruptedly for 14 years since my birth.

There are times when I reflect on how shameful it is that Nigeria – Africa’s richest economy, is now the latest victim of terrorism, and I get so sad. I usually feel like the Giant has been forced to its knees. However, what I failed to remember for a while, was that the aim of Boko Haram is to create division among Nigerians and this vision of theirs is yet to come to fruition. It never will.

Nigeria comprises mainly of Christians and Muslims. I find so much beauty in this difference. I am a Christian and I attended a predominantly Christian school with Muslims. Yup! We would tell each other about our different religious practices. That was fun. During one of the main Muslim festive periods – Sallah, there was a particular neighbour of my parents who would share meat among his neighbours, including my Christian parents. Even in the midst of the Boko Haram crisis that has lasted for at least, four years now, a majority of Nigerians are saying No to religious violence, and No to violence against children and youths who are going to school. In summary, we Nigerians are saying No to Boko Haram. How can you be winning when your goal does not seem like it will ever be achieved? The extremists are the ones losing here because most Nigerians will not let swords and guns change their mindset on equality and every human being’s natural right to education.

I love that I am a co-Nigerian citizen to people who are different from me either by tribe or by religion. What fun would it be, if we were completely homogeneous as Nigerians? There is beauty in our differences. Our bond will continue to conquer the extremists. The Chibok school girls will be freed, and someday (soon, I hope), Boko Haram will leave Nigeria.

Love & Peace,


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