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  • Writer's pictureHeather Payeur

Is Diversity a Dirty Word?

Back to Basics

Let's start by being very clear on one thing. Diversity as defined by Merriam-webster ( is:

1: the condition of having or being composed of differing elements : VARIETY especially: the inclusion of people of different races (see RACE entry 1 sense 1a), cultures, etc. in a group or organization programs intended to promote diversity in schools 2: an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities : an instance of being diverse a diversity of opinion

Walking through life

On our journey through life, we experience diversity in everything we do. Right down to the cereal we buy, or perhaps, you're anti cereal and eat Belgian waffles drizzled in syrup and strawberries every single day (one can dream). The point is there is no way around it, our world is made of infinite wonder and the reason it is infinite and wonderful is because it is diverse. Can you imagine if we all looked alike? Boring! What if the climate never changed anywhere and there was no such thing as a tropical vacation or snowball fights in the frigid winter? I won't go on because I think you get the point. Diversity is what makes our world, earth and humanity at large so stinkin’ cool! But, you know, that's just my opinion; if you'd rather a world in monotone and grey I guess you're entitled to that opinion.

Why are We Even talking about this?

I know, it seems strange to be so blunt as to provide a dictionary definition, like, is that really necessary. But I honestly couldn't tell you how many times I've encountered a shift in interactions such as facial expression, tone and body language ect when the word diversity is brought up in conversation or mentioned as a possible solution to apparent problems. In some cases, people jump on the opportunity to speak specifically about the branch of 'Diversity' they are most passionate about (love this we need cheerleaders everywhere). However, in other cases people seem very clearly turned off, shut down, almost annoyed; they have a very clear vision of what 'Diversity' means which they decidedly don't like. I can only guess that at some point in the later groups life they have encountered 'diversity' in a way that helped them form this negative opinion and caused them to have tunnel vision. Rather than excepting that not everything can fit into the same box, they'd rather stick to a singular label.

Too Easy

The reason I think people may hold onto their negativity towards diversity is because it's way easier to shut the shades, put on blinders and box it up, than it is to admit there might be things you don't know or understand. I guess I'm not saying people are unwilling to admit defeat/wrongness, though I do think that is a huge part of the problem. Maybe it's more about thinking you have the 'facts' or the 'truth' based on our own specific experience without acknowledging how minute those experience are in the grand scheme of things. I can't completely fault that because I'm guilty of it too. As humans we have so much potential, but we also have limits and tend to come to things in our own time. Depending on how deeply rooted our 'opinions' are we may choose to never shift/challenge them. If we are being real with ourselves it's incredibly hard to let go of strongly held opinions, even if we know they are flawed. It's like being covered in a warm fuzzy blanket; I'll be damned if I'm going to take it off and go cold just because you say I 'should'.


One common theme we've found with the solutions our guests recommend is that you won't get the full effect by dipping your toes in the water. You have to dive in! Immerse yourself in ideas, people, cultures, places, and things that are different than you. Look, you may not like it and that's ok; no-one is suggesting that everyone needs to like everyone or everything. What I am saying is that you can't judge the cake by the frosting alone, dig in baby, otherwise you'll never truly know what you may be missing.

Diversity on Fire would love to know what you think about this. Respond with a comment or direct message to keep the conversation going!

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