Monday, April 07, 2014

Embracing Diversity Involves More Than Meets The Eye

Photo Credit: United Way of the Lower Mainland
Diversity is a bit of a buzzword these days but I wonder if most of us fully understand what diversity truly means. I fear that for many Christian organizations and churches, diversity simply means that a few people from cultures other than the majority culture are represented in a group.

But true diversity -- biblical diversity -- means much more than that.

For a Christian community to truly refer to itself as one that is Christ-honoring in its diversity, I believe that means that each person that is part of that community, no matter what their ethnic background or cultural experiences, is able to bring their FULL self in their pursuit of God's glory.

By Their Strange Fruit, a blog that I enjoy reading, offers some good thoughts on the topic of diversity. A highlight:
"Diversity cannot be the end goal, just like counting heads in pews isn't an end in itself. They're merely metrics. Diversity is simply a measure on the way to richer engagement and equality. Diversity is about quantity. As followers of Christ, we must also be interested in quality. 
We cannot pretend that getting many different faces in the room alters structural injustice. Going beyond diversity means setting aside our own agendas. It means asking how we may serve the priorities of those around us. We must share power, and set aside our privilege. Diversity itself does not assure these things. 
Too often white-dominated organizations (read: churches) seek people of color simply to validate their own structures and plans. They want diversity in their brochures and their stats. But they want 'just enough'--not too much. They don't want to be fundamentally changed from the dominant-culture organizations they are. If we believe our own way of running things should be the standard, then we are allowing our own hubris to get in the way of the Church that Jesus envisioned. 
We like diversity. We say we value it. We attend training events for it and put it in our mission statements. We like to pat ourselves on the back if we obtain a certain percentage. But have we served the purpose of creating a more just and equitable society? 
There is a place for diversity. It helps us be mindful of our group composition and avoid homogeneity. Sometimes we struggle even to attain nominal levels of diversity in our environments, so it remains one of our many goals toward racial justice. 
But diversity itself does nothing if unjust polices remain unchallenged. It is useless if voices remain silenced or certain opinions are not valued. It is pointless if we remain oblivious to crucial social issues outside of our cultural bubble. Diversity itself cannot change the deeply rooted inequalities at play in our society. For that, we need press further.
Embracing diversity involves much more than getting those of minority groups to adapt to and fit in with majority culture. Embracing diversity means to pursue a radical inclusiveness where justice is pursued, equality is valued and love reigns supreme.

To read the rest of the post from By Their Strange Fruit please click here.