Global Diversity Awareness Month

Global Diversity Awareness Month

We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community - and this nation.
Cesar Chavez

October 1, 2022 

Celebrating global diversity honors the variety of cultures worldwide. In the United States, we often focus on the cultures represented here. However, there are many more cultures globally! 

What is cultural diversity? 

Let’s answer a few other questions first: Which languages do you speak? What is your racial identification? What is your religion? Which holidays do you celebrate? How do you define your ethnic identity? How do you describe your culture?

These questions define our cultural identity. Culture is that which shapes us; it frames our identity, and influences our behavior. Culture is our “way of being,” including the shared language, beliefs, values, norms, rites of passage, behaviors, celebrations, and material objects passed down from one generation to the next.

A common indicator of cultural diversity is race. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2021 estimated population by race in the United States was the following:

77% White 

19% Hispanic or Latino

14% Black or African American 

6% Asian

1.3% American Indian and Alaska Native 

0.3% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 

Each race encompasses a wide variety of different ethnic groups. An ethnic group refers to people closely related to each other through characteristics such as culture, language, and religion. The people in the United States represent many ethnic groups, largely due to its immigrant population. Each of these groups contributes to America’s cultural heritage, and in large part, that’s what makes us Americans. With its multiethnic population, the United States is one of the most diverse nations in terms of culture.1

What does it mean to be “culturally diverse”?

The term “culturally diverse” is often used interchangeably with the concept of “multiculturalism.” Multiculturalism is defined as the following:
“A system of beliefs and behaviors that recognizes and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or society, acknowledges and values their socio-cultural differences, and encourages and enables their continued contribution within an inclusive cultural context which empowers all within the organization or society.”2

Sociologist Dr. Caleb Rosado, who specializes in diversity and multiculturalism, described seven essential actions involved in the definition of multiculturalism:2


•    recognition of the abundant diversity of cultures
•    respect for the differences
•    acknowledging the validity of different cultural expressions and contributions
•    valuing what other cultures offer
•    encouraging the contribution of diverse groups
•    empowering people to strengthen themselves and others to achieve their maximum potential by being critical of their own biases, and
•    celebrating rather than just tolerating the differences to bring about unity through diversity.

As the world becomes increasingly connected and globalized, it’s important to remember that a ‘global monoculture,’ or a homogenization of cultures, is not by God’s design. Embracing cultural diversity – across multiple dimensions – is the answer to avoiding a global monoculture. The phrase 'cultural diversity' can also refer to having different cultures respect each other’s differences.

Cultural diversity in education helps to support deeper growth and learning, confidence, preparation for the future, and greater empathy. Given that we live in a multicultural world, it makes sense to approach cultural diversity with a mindset and actions that embrace this fact. Students benefit from this focus in the following ways:


•    Greater compassion and understanding for differences rather than judgment
•    Increased innovation with varied perspectives that can see the world differently
•    Enhanced productivity when people come together and build a new style of collaboration
•    Further opportunities when people embrace diverse ideas and blend them together 

Christ-centered schools should strive for cultural diversity. Unfortunately, too often, we simply work for assimilation, which can lead to suppression of culture. This struggle is nothing new for the people of God. In the book of Galatians, Paul opposes Peter and addresses the Judaizers who were trying to elevate Jewish culture above others by forcing new converts to follow the Law of Moses. Christ's work on the cross can unify us, regardless of our cultural differences.

Valley Christian Schools is committed to fully embracing the purpose of cultural diversity shown in Revelation 7:9 and our Biblical Unity Statement. We are equipping students to biblically interact with the prevailing culture. Following Christ means to lay bare one’s sin and open oneself up for deeper friendships and accountability. To effectively navigate culture, the Christ-centered school must intentionally promote winsome conversations and engage in constant public dialogue about issues of faith and culture. 

Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. We attain unity only through variety. Differences must be integrated, not annihilated, not absorbed.
Mary Parker Follett

 

How might we support cultural diversity at Valley Christian?

Families, teachers, and everyone in our VCS community have the agency to support cultural diversity. Consider these ideas:
•    Honor other people who are also made in the image of God
•    Interact with people outside of your culture (share a meal!)
•    Embrace opportunities for winsome conversations to be open-minded, to listen, and let go of judgment
•    If you see or hear anyone who is being culturally insensitive, speak out against it
•    Read literature and learn from different cultures
•    Accept that differences are beneficial and not harmful
•    Learn a new language and communicate in a friend’s native language rather than your own

These suggestions are starting points anyone can follow. For the person who follows Jesus Christ, the ultimate way to advocate for cultural diversity is to fulfill the Great Commission, where Jesus instructed his followers to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Let us join together across denominations, religions, and cultures to make a habit of empathy and reach out to those most in need. To share the blessings we enjoy and to advance the cause of peace in all corners of our world.
Barack Obama

 
HISTORY OF GLOBAL DIVERSITY AWARENESS MONTH
After the Second World War, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The Declaration represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. It is essentially an acknowledgment that we should remember and understand the value of each human being, regardless of nationality, color, race, sex, gender, country of origin, language, or otherwise.
Global Diversity Awareness Month represents the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about new cultures and explore some of the diversity that makes the world such a wonderful place and rich with opportunities to share the universal message of God’s love for humanity.4
 
Diversity Blessing
May the Lord God who created this world of diversity and vibrancy,
Go with us where we walk and show us how to embrace life in all its fullness.

May Jesus, the Son who teaches us to care for strangers and foreigners,
Journey beside us as we try to be good neighbors in our communities.

May the Holy Spirit, who knows our hearts, break down our barriers and help us to celebrate community,

Stay with us as we find the courage to create a place of welcome for all.
 
For More Information
Look for monthly cultural and heritage celebration updates. Contact Dr. Steven J. McGriff, Director of Biblical Unity, Valley Christian Schools, at smcgriff@vcs.net
References
1. R. Schaefer Sociology: A brief introduction (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006). 
2. C. Rosado, What Makes a School Multicultural?, accessed September 14, 2022
3. University of the People, https://www.uopeople.edu/blog/what-is-cultural-diversity/, accessed September 13, 2022
4. National Today. https://nationaltoday.com/global-diversity-awareness-month/, accessed September 6, 2022