Staff editorial 8/29: Look in between the lines

Diversity seems to be becoming less of a black and white issue. More people are identifying themselves as “mixed” rather than one specific race.  Even gender identity is becoming fuzzy. So what exactly is diversity? At its most basic core, it’s anything that makes us different, from clear issues such as race and gender right down to which dorm we live in.

Despite the fact that people celebrate the diversity within our society, others wish that diversity not be recognized at all.

Sunday’s dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s National Memorial in Washington,  D.C. in respect of the 48th anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech may have been postponed because of Hurricane Irene, but the event has people taking the stance that society should completely stop identifying people by race. They consider this a move toward his actual “dream.”

The shift toward the deconstruction of labels, based on such features as race, have been a major development over the years because youth  today are generally more accepting. Still, this acceptance needs to be taught from a young age – children are not, in fact, colorblind and actually have a natural tendency to form biases based on those physically different from themselves. A preschool in Sweden is teaching children not to identify each other by gender, addressing each other as “friends” instead of “him” or “her.”

But is it beneficial to stop acknowledging the differences that make us unique? Although it is almost impossible not to notice how someone differs from you physically, it is possible to refuse to let the perception of those differences affect your thoughts and actions.

Miami is the ideal location to not only learn to drop stereotypes based on race, gender or other physical qualities, but to be able to express pride in who you are. At UM, you can join an organization made up of members with similar interests or backgrounds, while still being able to branch out and experience others different from you.

Although the university’s diversity ratings by The Princeton Review have dropped, UM remains a good place to balance pride and acceptance. Prejudice is still very much alive and will continue to exist until society understands that being proud of who you are and looking down on those who differ is not an acceptable mindset.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.