Diversity must be celebrated

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janiqua Robinson
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
The Tuskegee Airmen, Martin Luther King Jr., Colin Powell; all of these figures represent parts of diversity and Black History that exemplify new innovations and ideas.

But Black History Month is about more than just race or heritage. It's about the diversity of where we came from, our backgrounds and life experiences.

This year, Moody will host a Diversity Day event that will celebrate various cultures by observing all of the heritage and awareness months, in two days throughout the year.

This will be my first time participating in an event like this. Despite growing up in Prince Georges County, Maryland, one of the most affluent predominately black counties in the country, I'm looking forward to learning about and celebrating different cultures, while I share experiences and traditions from my own.

I grew up celebrating Black History Month, which was naturally all about the past. We learned about the realities of colonization, slavery, segregation and Jim Crow. We celebrated those who dedicated their lives to being a catalyst for change, and admired how many risked their lives for future generations to be considered equal under the law.

I didn't know there was a Hispanic Heritage or other month's, weeks and days that celebrate other cultures until I grew up and met people who grew up celebrating it, and that's why Diversity Day is so important.

There's so much we can learn from each other if we just take the time to absorb each other's cultures. We have the privilege of living in a Nation where we can take classes or attend events where we can do just that.

My junior year in high school I took African American studies as an elective. I was able to watch a junior United States Senator from Illinois become the first black president while I was sitting in a class that explored my heritage.

President Obama didn't win the election because he was a black man but because people felt he was the right man for the job during this decisive period for our country. But race was the main focus of the entire nation throughout that election cycle.

I began to see that no matter how many months we devote to remembering and celebrating black history or how many black presidents we have, it will not change the race problem we have in America because as a nation, we're too segregated.

The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I realize that they grew up in neighborhoods that are predominately their race just like I grew up in a predominately black one.

We should not strive to be colorblind or ignore our cultural differences because that is what makes America a giant melting pot. The chance that we have to learn about and experience so much diversity just because we live in America is a gift that we should all enjoy.

As projects, pageants, memorials, marathons, marches, diversity days and other traditions kick off this February; take the time to think about more than just black history. Think about more than just the history of the people you are learning about. Think about what their communities are facing now.

Take the time to learn about more than just traditions and cuisine from other cultures. Not so we can use it in everyday conversation to explain why we're not racist or to brag about how open minded we are, but so we can truly understand the issues that our neighbors are facing. 

Until we strive to appreciate and understand our individual and collective cultural struggles we will never be able to unlock society's true potential.