When I think about diversity, I think about how and when I hear the word used the most.
Parents have said to me fairly often that they want their children to go to a school that is “diverse.” In my circles, that has often meant racial diversity. I know this because they’ve followed up by telling me about the racial and ethnic makeup they noticed when they went on a campus tour. Or which groups they saw more of on the school's website. When I read the business section of The New York Times or pick up the Wall Street Journal, diversity is mentioned there too. I’ve found articles discussing the need for a diverse economy.
Diversity is thick and layered. Yet it isn't often presented in its fullness. Diversity isn't as diverse as it should be. Especially not when everyone isn't given their share of the diversity pie.
I count myself as part of the problem. I don’t always consider the fullness of this experience. I admit to not taking responsibility of how I may be a part of the solution. The Americans with Disabilities Act, known as the ADA, was signed into law in 1990. This law took the responsibility of prohibiting discrimination on the basis of ability to another level. This act was a major reason that public places and public modes of transportation now had accessibility requirements to follow. It called for various mental and physical health conditions to be acknowledged as disabilities and thereby protected in the workplace with reasonable accommodations. That's the quick and short of it but there is more to learn.
The Department of Labor said that disabled people, at nearly 50 million, are the "nation's largest minority." How are they acknowledged, celebrated and supported in our churches? Are our entrances suitable for those with physical disabilities? Are our bible studies or children's church programs welcoming places for those with intellectual disabilities? Have we made efforts to support individuals and families through the challenges of both temporary and long-term situations? Have we tried anything? Can we do more?
I asked several questions above. I don’t have the answers to all of them. The answers I have to a few are disappointing.
In John 5, Jesus asked a lame man if he wanted to be well. If I continue to ask myself and others how can we diversify diversity, we look for ways to help, serve and understand, God will lead us to answers and responsible action.
M. Skye Holly, Converge Northeast Diversity Team Member
M. Skye Holly is a native New Yorker of Haitian descent.
As a writer and journalist, Skye feels at home around creatives, community and conversation. She is the founder of Black Ivy Prep, an educational consulting firm committed to closing gaps and opening doors for families of color. Skye is a proud #BoyMom. She serves in the social justice ministry of Beraca Baptist Church and is a member of the Converge Northeast Diversity Team.