Saturday, February 27, 2010


Last night, some friends and I were sitting at the table and on one of the friends was taking a class in diversity. She said that the instructor asked their recollections of their first encounter with diversity.
We talked about those younger than us maybe not remembering their first encounter,  because there is diversity all around us? And, yes, there is... to a degree.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s (I don't remember much of the 50s) and remember the homogenous neighborhood where a single mom raising her children was diversity. I remember the first African American child in my class in fourth grade. "Fusun" was a name of a friend I had from Turkey who lived on the hospital grounds of a tuberculosis sanitarium about a mile away from my home. My first experience with diverse food was waking up to what I thought were my kind of pancakes to pancakes made by a Norwegian mother. They turned out to be crepes with preserves on them. And then, I remember going to a friend's home whose only source of heat was in the living room and kitchen. We slept under LOTS of blankets. I thought everyone had heat in their house all over.

In high school I remember the student named Ricky who was in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy. Come to think of it - that is the only student I remember who may have been a student with "special needs" - where were the rest of them? Oh yes, I graduated from high school before IDEA act came into being.

Our town is full of diversity - the families that have Asian restaurants, the families that take care of our toenails and fingernails, the poor, the wealthy, all living in the same community.  Even though we look different, speak in different languages, and have different customs, we are all living in the same community.

Yet on Sunday morning, I still attend church with pews full of white faces, and leaning on the side of being mostly over 50. Mostly.... not all.... but I digress.

Today, I watched this video and realized that for the most part, I have experienced diversity under the comfort zone of the United States, where there is conformity to a degree with our culture.  I placed myself in their country and wondered what it would be like to be there and be on the other side of the fence. Being the "different" one.

Egypt / Lebanon Montage from Khalid Mohtaseb on Vimeo.

1 comment:

  1. I have had some odd experiences with diversity ... not the least of which was serving as the "Diversity Chairman" for the Junior League umpteen years ago.

    Our task/target/hope was to get some African American women to join the League. When we finally got some women to talk to us I was so fortunate that they were both kind and honest.

    Seems they have been doing massive amounts of volunteering, fundraising, focusing on children and families, meeting, organizing and working ... without our even being aware of the tremendous work they (through a large variety of groups) had been doing in our town.

    Sadly, we missed the irony. That we saw "our town" as one that had all these poor people in it we needed to help ... and they were extremely active in the community they saw as their own.

    I still cringe when I think about our cluelessness.

    The movie was lovely - really challenges our idea of images of "life" and "home" and community.

    Thanks Cathy!