Friday, September 7, 2012

Diversity and Christen - An Introduction to Understanding and Discussion

*A disclaimer (that applies to any other post as well): you, the reader, and I, the author, have different values, norms, cultures, experiences, worldviews, backgrounds, etc. We probably aren't going to understand each other completely, or at all. That is perfectly okay! I think it's beautiful, in fact. If you would like to voice your disagreement, questions, curiousity, etc, I welcome it. All I ask is that you consider treating me and others with respect while discussing, and have ownership of your personal opinions.*

I started learning about and appreciating diversity a while ago, at least four years ago. I don't exactly remember when it all started. I'm assuming it was a class, maybe psychology in 10th grade? The mysterious origin of this way of viewing the world kinda adds to its beauty.

So ever since I was 15, if not before then, I have been passionate about learning about other cultures and ways of life and surrounding myself with different people. I think a lot of this has to do with growing up in Utah. Utah, and especially Davis County, is very white. It is also very Mormon; there are many LDS people and the LDS church is very involved in Utah government. Other stereotypes and majorities about Utah include: Republican, modest, kind, happy, traditional (which to some also means closed-minded), structured, etc. The main point of this is that Utah is NOT very diverse. *I would like to point out that Salt Lake City is much more diverse than the rest of Utah. But I have only lived there three months in my lifetime as a newborn, so it didn't affect my upbringing and worldview as much as Davis County has.* Although I have mainly grown up in Davis County, Utah, I also lived in Maryland from late-1999 to mid-2001. I was 7 and 8 at the time. Maryland is much more diverse than Utah! I think seeing this different view of the world also contributed to my appreciation for diversity.

I am currently taking an amazing class called Social Health and Diversity. (So far,) This class focuses on dominant and subordinate groups, the power difference between them, and what we can do to make things more equal. Dominant groups are groups that tend to have unearned privilege in society, not because of anything they do or don't do, but simply because of a part of who they are of how they are perceived to be. Dominant groups in America include white people, men, heterosexual people, non-disabled people, middle aged people, English speakers, native borns and citizens, Christians, thin/average weighted people, wealthy people, formally educated people (college), etc. Subordinate groups are groups that tend to have less privilege in society, not because of anything they do or don't do, but simply because of a part of who they are or how they are perceived to be. Subordinate groups in America include people of color, women and transgender people, non-heterosexual/LGBTQ/queer people, disabled people, children and elderly people, ESL/accented/non-English speakers, immigrants and non-citizens, non-Christians, overweight people, poor people, informally educated people (not college, not high school), etc. (I might explain more in later posts as I learn about this whole concept, but I think that's all I will explain for now. If you have any questions, ask! Please, don't freak out or feel bad before you have a better understanding of this concept. It's a tough one to swallow and grasp.)

So, with that explanation, I will rephrase my earlier statement. For a long time, at least since I was 15, I've been interested in learning about people in the subordinate groups. Although it may be subconscious, I have surrounded myself with people who are part of these subordinate groups. At the extreme, I have even at times not wanted to belong to the dominant groups. I want my future family to be multicultural, multiracial, multilingual, free thinkers, and to travel the world and see all different kinds of people and ways of living, and appreciate them all.

I've attempted to give insight to someone about this concept with this little analogy before: Most of my life I've been in a field of daisies. Daises are beautiful flowers. As I've had more experiences, I've seen sunflowers, and roses, and birds of paradise, etc. I want to be surrounded by all different kinds of flowers. There is nothing wrong with daises, and I still want to see them, but I also want to see other kinds of flowers.

Because of this passion and worldview, I describe myself as an "open-minded person," and living up to this is important to me. Recently, a friend told me that I am judgmental. This hit me pretty hard. I didn't want to hear it. But I am going to be honest here, I am not perfect. I am human, therefore I judge. Lately I've realized that, since I consider myself to be open-minded, sometimes I can't understand people who I perceive to be closed-minded, or at least who don't value diversity and respect in the same way that I do. I am admitting that it is difficult for me to understand people who make racist/sexist/homophobic/etc comments. I judge them. I want them to be more like me (because the way I am is correct, right? haha). But guess what, newsflash! People are different. People have different experiences, worldviews, flaws and talents, values, etc. No matter what, we are all valueable human beings who deserve respect. And although I'd like to change everyone (including myself) into non-judgmental, equality-loving, perfect people, it is just not going to happen. However, working on my own issues, expanding my own viewpoint, and learning about myself and others is something that I believe I can do to make the world a better place. I need to be reminded over and over again to let others be and focus on self-improvement. (Not to say that I'll ignore the growth and well-being of others; I just need to accept that ultimately it is out of my hands.) *At this point, I would like to apologize to anyone who has felt judged by me. I really do value you as an equal and worthy person, and I'm sorry that has not shown.*

I feel like this post is kind of a rambling of all the thoughts I've had for the past weeks, and even months and years, about this topic. I might edit it as I reread it and learn more. If you have any questions for clarification or bigger-picture understanding, please ask! Either on here or a more personal setting. Thanks for reading (:


  1. I remembered something about the start of my liberation. When I was a pre-teen, around 11, it hit me one day that I was "luckier" than some of my friends. I had a trauma-free childhood, my parents made a good amount of money, I had a stable and loving family, I was considered smart and did very well in school, etc. I remember standing in my room, upset, maybe even crying, because I realized that I had done nothing different than my friends; I didn't deserve having a "better life." I wished that I could share some of my blessings and even out the pain and joy of mine and my friends' lives. Looking back, I realized this at such a young age! I am immensely grateful for it though.

  2. Your class sounds very interesting! I wish I could take it.
    I hope things are well with you! :)

  3. It is a fantastic class! She actually also teaches at the U too. (I know you are at BYU. But just in case...)
    I hope you are doing well too (: I saw your family picture the other day and could hardly recognize you! How is your weight loss journey going? (I do follow your blog, so I know goal-wise it's going well, but what are some of the challenges?)