Tomorrow is Pink Shirt Day (26 May), but Varvara Sidorenko’s message about diversity is something we can consider daily.
I’m not going to lie, writing this post proved more difficult than I imagined. In my mind, I thought that perhaps as a member of the LGBT community and an immigrant I could easily write about diversity and what it means for us as a society. Let me be the first to admit that I was wrong.
I wish I could write a post that boiled the issue down to a few anecdotes and could propose The Perfect Plan to embrace diversity. But I can’t. The lens through which I see the world is not going to be the same as anyone else’s. And valuing diversity means embracing that. While my experiences are important, they are not universal.
It still means though, that I can draw on my own experiences to talk about diversity as I see it. For me, diversity means having respect and empathy for those who are different from you. It means being educated about issues affecting under-represented and discriminated-against groups. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to be informed. Information is powerful. It is the best tool we have to combat discrimination. But being informed is not all that you can do. In our lives, we will all be leaders in some capacity, so we need to remember that (cough-cough, let me break out my uncle Ben voice) “with great power comes great responsibility”. If you see discrimination, speak up and stop it.
And keep in mind that a little bit of kindness and understanding goes a long way. If your friends confide in you, be nice. It sounds simple, but it means a lot to someone who is going through a difficult time. You might not relate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support them.
At the end of the day, the easiest path to embracing diversity is accepting the people around us for who they are, and treating them with the respect any human being deserves. We might not be very good at it yet, but it’s something to aim for.