In this day and age, I can’t help but wonder why so many people struggle with those who are different. How can we not be a more accepting people? Why don’t more of us embrace diversity? February is National Black History Month and the Chinese New Year. These are two cultures that have brought so much character and depth and breadth to what is America. Why is it so hard for so many to enjoy the differences?
Keep in mind that I am not a sociologist or an anthropologist. I don’t study cultures and religions and history for a living. You know I love everything about retirement and can talk for hours about that subject. But, getting to the bottom of why there is such a deep divide among people in the nation will take smarter people than me. Yet, I still want to better understand.
Attending excellent discussions
Every night the news is bleak. Hate crimes are up. Murders are up. Tolerance is way down. Misunderstandings and misinformation clog the airways. So, I felt the need to get started with a better set of information for embracing diversity.
I attended a powerful discussion at a women’s event late last year. African American businesswomen were sharing some of their stories. These women achieved business goals and advanced in their careers in financial services. They earned the same titles that I had. Assistant Director. Director. Vice President. But I didn’t recognize the journeys and the experiences they explained.
Another women’s group hosted a presenter who is an expert in unconscious bias. Very interesting points of view and perspectives.
Then, I realized one day how differently the younger men and women talk about things. And, in contrast, how the older people in my circle talk. I even was surprised to hear how I referenced something, and how “old fashioned” it sounded. So, I wondered about the generational differences and opportunities each cohort had during their formative years to embrace diversity.
A startling analysis when looking across the generations
A little digging, a little work on an excel spreadsheet, and voila. I saw something quite startling. And, maybe it starts to be a piece of this very big and challenging puzzle. In this wonderful melting pot that is America, we didn’t all grow up in a time when there was a lot of cultural diversity. In fact, it wasn’t until my generation of the younger Baby Boomers that the US population was even one-third non-European white. Prior to this group, the non-white population was only about one-quarter.
By the time my daughters were born in the 1990s, the country’s population had grown to 45% non-white. And, by the new millennium, we were a country made up of a culturally rich and wonderful 50/50 non-whites AND whites.
This shed a small light on a piece of why we might approach and accept others differently. It in no way excuses hideous behavior toward our fellow Americans and fellow human beings. It simply serves as a reference point for us to realize. So, I created this infographic to share what I found. There are still miles to go to gain better understanding, but we need to start somewhere…