April 26, 2012

The Diversity Factor

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

Do you talk about diversity?  The growth of diversity across America holds the potential for a more prosperous healthier society. Take a look:

Source: Woods & Poole Economics, Inc. Washington, D.C. Copyright 2010. Woods & Poole does not guarantee the accuracy of this data. The use of this data and the conclusion drawn from it are solely the responsibility of PolicyLink. See their methodology here.

Diversity needs equity.
A definition of equity: Just and fair inclusion. An equitable society is one in which all can participate and prosper. The goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow all to reach their full potential. In short, equity creates a path from hope to change." 
—Angela Glover Blackwell
    CEO PolicyLink

Our children are growing up in a landscape of diversity.  What can we tell them about difference? What can we learn from their perspectives? It’s a discussion that will take on new dimension in the days ahead.  Dialogue can push us to consider new possibilities for the future.  For example, the America Healing initiative keeps the conversation going in search of new ideas and shedding light on the potential of growing racial and ethnic differences found in communities.  
The climate for diversity does improve when we move beyond silence.  
Bill Moyers had an engaging conversation with PolicyLink CEO Angela Glover Blackwell about the social and economic distress facing many. Her optimism for our future hinges on the promise of diversity in our nation.  Listen to their conversation:

Diversity factors in health, education and economic opportunity.  Our lives are shaped by a growing diversity whether or not we choose acknowledge the new census numbers.  It’s worth trying to understand.  For more insight you’ll need patience, listening skills, a willingness to learn new ways as well as acceptance of the future.  

What can you do?  A conversation at lunch with a colleague and/or family dinner table talks can bring this kind dialogue closer to you. I’ve had revelations during breakfast with my mother, we don’t often share the same point of view, but benefit from the other’s point of view. Healthy debate abounds. Yes, intergenerational conversations matter for diversity too.   A growing number of professional, faith and community seminars, workshops and conferences are engaging in these conversations.  Informal and formal opportunities for discussion can make a difference.  Racial and ethnic, intergenerational and gender diversity are a rich ground afforded by dignity, respect and empathic responses.  Have you been talking about diversity?  Share your thoughts.


  1. Should we diversify at the expense of cultural cohesion? How has diversification worked out so far for the African American? What is the motivation for the groups that hold the most power to diversify? I ask myself these questions regularly and my answers always turns towards less diversification. The problem I have in diversity lies in your definition of equity "Just and fair inclusion". It is not easy for dominant groups to give up advantages and now play fair.

  2. Glad for your response and insight.

    Diversity exists. Families and communities hold cultural capital to be savored, yet in classrooms and public spaces we all show up. Diversity exists. It's in the work place and school where practical matters in diversity begin with respect for difference. Diversity and inclusion hold promise for better outcomes. When dominant groups give up (not sayin it's easy) advantage there's more potential for more advantage. The case for enabling just and fair inclusion rests on the opportunity for more opportunity and economic prosperity.

  3. I loved that talk by M. Angela Glover Blackwell. When I look at the health conditions in the U.S. I see people of color always at the 'statistical bottom' of every illness/disease. To reverse the health status of this country on a whole, to make it well, we must pay attention to people of color. I believe that we take care of our people of color, then the country will rise and have the same level of wellness that other 'developed' and industrial countries experience (which include France, Canada, Japan etc.) And in order to do so we much put diverse populations at the center of change. It is a diversity of voices that will drive innovation. And it is those voices that we have in critical places, the better we will be able to challenge the wrongs and the injustices; the more we will be able to push for the change we really want to see and NEED. ~Lilia @www.liliashealthbook.blogspot.com