Updated: Mar 25, 2019
Why am I so passionate about diversity? This question fills my mind as I ponder how to inspire underprivileged youth to believe they can overcome anything. As I think, and think, and think… my mind feels blank and this question seems unanswerable. But do I really need an answer?
I wonder if I am passionate about this topic because I, at one point, was underprivileged. Now what does that really mean? It means I was poor. So poor that a familiar memory of mine consists of crying on the kitchen floor because of the lack of food in our pantry. With a single-mother, even the slightest amount of money meant the world to us. As a young girl, I felt ashamed. Being poor was a label I tried to hide. I tried to hide it during lunch time because of my entirely subsidized lunch. I tried to hide it with the clothes I wore and the way I behaved. No matter what, this was something I felt I needed to hide.
Perhaps I am passionate about this topic because of the rise we see in multicultural individuals entering billion dollar industries, government, or simply standing up for injustices. Maybe business leaders in corporate America have inspired me to talk and share my story. Although these seem like possible explanations to my passion, they don’t emulate the power I feel when this topic is discussed. If I were doing this to fit into a mold and be trendy, it means that this passion will at one point fade. If I were doing this solely to feel like a better person, it wouldn’t be the kind of passion that rushes through my veins when the opportunity to share comes up.
To be entirely honest, I still don’t know the answer to this question. Why diversity? All I know is that no matter the position I hold in whatever company I am working for, I find myself in meetings filling the room with words like “inclusion,” “minorities,” “embracing,” and “equality.” Not only does this topic fill my mind every single day, but this topic pulls me in more than anything else in the world.
Whenever there is a chance for me to communicate my thoughts about diversity and its importance, my heart starts racing. I remind myself to breathe and then eagerly listen to the experiences of others. Often, I am able to relate to someone else’s story about a time they felt alone or misunderstood due to their ethnicity. There is something about listening to the experiences of others that fosters love and understanding. I learn more about humanity and my ability to judge is overruled by my ability to empathize. I begin to understand why people are built the way they are. Our experiences, our cultures, and personalities are expressed though the way stories are told and opinions shared.
I want to know more and judge less. Do you?
I am tired of hiding what made me exactly who I am today. I am proud to have once been labeled as underprivileged." I am no longer underprivileged and this fact has slowly become a memory because of my ability to dream. The answer to my question, ‘why diversity?’, has become clearer than ever. I am not passionate about diversity because we live in a time where the world is. I am not passionate about diversity because I, myself, am diverse.
I am passionate about diversity because of you.
You remind me of myself when I was a little girl. You remind me of myself when I was afraid. You remind me of myself when I tried to hide. When I was embarrassed. When I felt less. When I felt poor. I am passionate about this topic because I can’t seem to stop thinking about you. I can’t help but fall asleep, dreaming of the time I will tell you to stop fighting your innate urge to believe in the world around you and most importantly, believe in yourself.
To my dreamers, the amount in your pocket is temporary and you have the power to change it.
To my dreamers, stop hiding who you are right now… remember that the tomorrow you dream of begins with who you are today.
And to my dreamers, start dreaming harder than you ever have, and when you begin to overcome small challenges, overcoming will become an addiction.
My dreamer, you are genuinely you. And I can’t wait to meet you.