The Reality Behind “Diversity”

| October 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

My high school loved to talk about how diverse it was. We’re not like other schools on Long Island- we would proudly claim.

Everyone gets along with each other so well.

But nothing is ever that simple.

I’ll admit, considering my school was all of five minutes away from New York City, it had students that came from a wide array of cultural backgrounds. By no means were we the stereotypical Long Island high school, and yes, we were always taught to treat everyone with respect regardless of race. However, what we seemed to preach in school didn’t exactly translate in practice.

In every grade, there were always stark divisions among the student body- and they were always by race and ethnicity. Everyone in school tended to fall into a category bin; all the Koreans stuck together, all the Indians stuck together, all the Greeks stuck together, and so on and so forth. This sheds a light on the debate what exactly is diversity. Sure, my school represented people from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities, but it wasn’t as if these different groups of people really interacted with one another. At the end of the day, people stuck to other people who were just like them. Could we claim that we are diverse? While our school (and many schools for that matter) was so committed to having an inclusive and “well-rounded” student body, does that promote diversity and encourage us to become more globally aware people?

After all, it’s psychology- people like to be around people like them. I’m guilty of it as well. And it isn’t as if my school was any different from other places when it came to this phenomenon. Take New York City for example; it prides itself in being the melting pot of the world. However, in reality, NYC and Long Island are actually some of the most segregated areas in the country. People contemplate  where they are going to live based on the demographics of the area; it’s all about whether they are going to see familiar faces. And the minute another ethnic group dares to buy a house in the “wrong” neighborhood, people move out in  masses. Ultimately, NYC is comprised of hundreds of enclaves, little worlds in themselves, in which a certain group of people stick together.

Therefore, if it’s human nature to be around people like yourself, then how do we as a society counteract that? How do we get people to abandon their comfort zone and talk to people who are different?

Segregation is something that’s taught and institutionalized, and therefore, the way to counteract it is to promote interaction and learning about the world from early on. I agree, changing norms is never easy, and the solution is never a quick one, but if we as a society actually want to be the diverse country we say we are, we need to start by recognizing this problem and resolving it from its roots.

Featured photo credit India Square by Jim.henderson via Wikimedia Commons (license

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Category: Columns, featured, Reflections, Thurman Thoughts

Maisha Savani

About the Author ()

Hello, my name is Maisha. As an Indian- American, I'm someone who's too Indian to be an American and too American to be Indian. Therefore, in many ways, I'm someone who never really has a home. However, on another note, I'm someone who will ALWAYS find time for TV, and Hollywood and Bollywood movies. Always. Hence, my posts deal with these ideas- cultures clashing, my family, and my love for television.

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