Diversity Day ’19 Celebrates Uniqueness

Tah'niyah Jackson, Staff Reporter

With my mighty notebook and camera, I was ready to experience the third annual Diversity Day on Sat. 16. Nov brought to us by UNIDAD. Diversity Day is a day of embracing what makes us different and accepting those differences in others. I was excited to see how the event would go.

Diversity Day is about what makes us different, and if you don’t know what makes you different, knowing what makes you like everyone else is easy to do. Finding uniqueness in that is where the beauty truly lies, and Diversity Day is where you can find what makes you innately special. 

We started the day off with a motivational speech from the Keynote speaker, Madera Robinson. She spoke on how special we all are, about how the world needs us, and how we’re all growing older. She was energetic and grabbed the crowd’s attention with her bold tone. She even read us a poem she wrote called “Just For Us,” which was truly inspiring because it made me realize how much of an impact you can have on peoples’ lives, whether it be good or bad. It made me want to be the best version of myself. After her speech, we were able to get into our groups to head to our first session of the day.

We were only able to attend two sessions because that’s all there was time for. I chose to attend a session titled “Where’s your Voice?”. I chose this session because I wanted to see if I would find something I didn’t already know. The presenter, Crandall O. Jones, an appointed public official of Pennsylvania, was warm and welcoming. He began his presentation by introducing a website called Menti.com, to find our “theme songs.” To do so, we had to enter three words into separate slots, and depending on the words chosen, the site would determine our theme song. When we were finding our theme songs, Mr. Jones played his theme song, and the lyrics, “I used to go out and party,” began to play. If you don’t know this song, then you might be a little young. He then tells us to play our songs aloud. There were many genres of music that began to play such as rock, jazz, pop, country, and best of all, John Legend. John Legend is his own genre of music. Finding our theme song was supposed to start us on our path to finding our voice.

As he begins to talk about his topic, that begins the journey of us finding our voice. Jones then began to speak about his family and some personal experiences with people outside of his community. That conversation was a bit deep in a sense; to lighten the mood, he started to make jokes and smile. He was goofy and wasn’t afraid to show it.  He even told us that he is a hopeless romantic. He gives us a couple of questions like, “If you could have any superpower what would it be?,” “What is your best skill,” and “What is diversity?”. The answers to that final question were well thought out. All of the answers had their own twist on what diversity is but were also similar to “our mind, personality, and what’s in our hearts.” He didn’t read words off of a paper or a Smartboard. He was speaking from his heart and his experience, which made the experience much more real and enjoyable.

At the end of the session, he left us with a word of advice: “To not think you are better than someone but to think that you are just as good, and that diversity makes our personalities richer.” The first session was nice, and the activities were fun, but I don’t know if I was able to find my voice because of it, so what now?

After the first session was lunchtime. They had all different types of foods, all of which tasted fantastic, but my little cousin RJ didn’t want anything but pizza.

 My second session was with the Young Scholars, who presented on “Removing Silos: Developing Cultural Diplomacy” because being in a silo means to be isolated.

 A type of silo would be different sections of a company not sharing information with each other. Unlike my first session, this session was crowded; every seat was filled, and people even had to stand. The speakers were mostly Young Scholars; Ms. Meyers did speak up to get the conversation rolling, but it was otherwise student-driven.

 In the beginning, the participation from the crowd was few and far between. Then after about 15 minutes, things started to pick up. When Ms.Meyers asked what makes us diverse, my little cousin RJ states that his “stinky feet” make him diverse. There were a couple of chuckles at my little cousin’s mild outbursts, considering he is a toddler and didn’t know any better. The Scholars begin to tell us what Silos are and how they can be bad when keeping us separated instead of united. 

The Scholars explained their slides well; my only point of correction would be for them to make more eye contact. After the slideshow, the attendees are split into groups to discuss “controversial statements” and how to properly react to them. The way people reacted to the statements were mature and respectful. 

After most of the statements were reviewed, there was one that stood out and caused an obvious generation separation. The statement was “ I have lots of black friends, so that means I can say the N-word even though I’m not black myself.” This caused a stir. An overall agreement was only people of color can say the word if it is said, but the older crowd thought the word shouldn’t be used at all and considers it an embarrassment. 

While some students who are also in the BSU said that for people of color to said it is a reclamation of the word. The mother of one of the BSU students said, “ How could ignorance be so good?” This conversation continues for at least 25 minutes; it was a good conversation, so much so that we don’t get to the last slide of the presentation, and they continue on the topic. So we end the session by finishing off the last statement because the conversation lasted for so long.  Although the conversation lasted a while, it was insightful on some of the things that are used to put us in silos like our tastes in music, clothes, hair products, and others.

When we leave for the talent show, that brings Diversity Day to its last hour, where students who showed off their diverse talents and how the diversity in all of us is truly astounding.