Celebrating cultural differences

The concept of diversity embraces so many different elements that trying to summarize them would be a quite a task, indeed. Think about it for a second: How can you commit to someone or to something if everyone and everything else is exactly the same? Can you imagine walking into a mall and seeing the same store at every turn? Not a pleasing prospect, to say the least. After all, how can one develop a taste for something without being able to compare it to something different?

Imagine walking into a dining hall and having only one kind of cereal. There would be no need for the words variety, different, same, like, type, or option in our vocabulary if there was no diversity. I am not going to be clichéd and say that variety is the spice of life, but you have to admit that without diversity everything would be monotonous, almost sickening, and definitely nonsense. And to establish the point of this article and to be even more truthful, the Caribbean person epitomizes the word “diversity.” There is no way you can go to only one place in the Caribbean and scratch it off your list of “places to go before I die,” because by seeing one of the places, you have not seen them all. You will never hear someone say of a person from the Caribbean, “He looks Caribbean.” What does a Caribbean person look like? Although a Puerto Rican and a Dominican can look identical, they can also look completely different. We come in all shapes, sizes, and shades; most importantly, we are all brought up in different ways, with different beliefs and different mentalities. If you ask a Cuban and a Puerto Rican the meaning of a certain word, they will give you two completely different answers. Ask a Belizean and a Haitian to play a rhythm for you, and they will do it in two totally different ways.

Most important of all, we are capable of doing many different things and we possess an enormous amount of talent. We are not only internationally known for the beauty of our homeland and the celebrity of our musicians; Cuba has one of the best medical systems in the world. Many world-renowned companies were created in the Caribbean (the Bacardi Corporation, for example, which I’m sure is very familiar to the students on this campus).

Even though the Caribbean is not as big as, say, Europe, our cultural, racial and social diversity makes us one of the richest regions in the world. Moreover, we love, respect and are proud of our differences, just as much as we are proud of the things that make us one people. Diversity for Caribbean Islanders is a reason to be satisfied, not a source of conflict. We recognize the value of our different traditions and cultural backgrounds, and at the same time we enjoy sharing those things that distinguish us in general from the rest of the world and that make us a community.

Celebrating diversity is celebrating life itself; it is celebrating every little thing that makes us unique and that simultaneously allows us to have some things in common with other people. Diversity allows us to stand out and belong.

As long as there is variety, there will be humanity, and we will have the opportunity to amuse ourselves with different things and enjoy each other’s little gifts. When we start appreciating diversity, we will realize that God’s one week long effort to separate light from darkness and to create the universe was worth it.