The last three months have been hard for me. When the results of the November presidential election trickled in, I was left with real fears for not only my own kids (who are half Mexican, half Chinese), but for all marginalized youth and families who live in the Bay Area.
A barrage of op-ed "think pieces," social media memes, and television pundits have described ad nauseam how American voters succumbed to an insecurity forcing us to close in, build walls, and ban access. History shows these sentiments have always been around, yet they have been emboldened and given a national platform via our administration’s actions and rhetoric. It seems as if the decorum ship has sailed and I wonder if we will we ever recover from this loss of decency.
So today, with less than two weeks since our peaceful transition of power, I'm still left wondering what is the root cause behind this normalization of aggressive and bigoted behaviors, and what I can do to address it.
I’m proposing we adopt a tenet of Radical Diversity in our everyday lives to truly change the narrative for our future generations. This idea of Radical Diversity can galvanize all Americans who want to come together over shared core values of equality, equity, and inclusion. It can be described as a bold and polarizing counter-narrative that addresses the societal challenges we currently face. The concept is intended to be fluid and could mean different things based on individual histories and inherited environments; but for me, Radical Diversity is:
- Joining or leading efforts that celebrate the diversity of my neighbors and community;
- Teaching my kids to welcome all persons and approach each interaction seeking to understand;
- Actively confronting all forms of bias, both institutional discrimination and micro-aggressions; and
- Staying committed to the goal of enacting social change today and over the next four years.
A Work in Progress
Granted, the idea of Radical Diversity is a work in progress, but I believe that if we can adopt extreme and controversial ideas like this, we can face adversity head-on and enact real social change. The Y, with inroads in communities throughout the world, has a real opportunity to leverage our collective brand to educate children, youth, and families about the power and beauty of diversity - whether it be "Radical" or not.
I'm feeling a little bit better since I started writing this back in November. Disconnecting from the inter-webs seems to help...I'm trying to skateboard more…I go to a lot of protests...There’s a long road ahead. But back in December I attended a forum at my kid's school hosted by Our Family Coalition about how parents and teachers can create more welcoming and inclusive environments. After the forum, an 8-year old student told me, “It’s good that we teach diversity in school. That way, we can learn how to get along with each other!” This one simple idea is what Radical Diversity means to me.