Thursday, December 10, 2009

Diversity II

Diversity in any residential community has the same impact on its population. It teaches us how we can all get along and love each other despite our differences. Too much of the same thing can be catastrophic. An area with a population that shares the same racial background, lower economic strata, and oppression can become a breeding ground for crime and violence. Ignorance is perpetuated when you are not exposed to anything different than what you are used to. Exposure to something other than what you are accustomed to has the power to expand your world which causes you to think differently. Once your thoughts change then your actions begin to change for the better.

Surroundings have a dramatic impact on who we are. Due to the fact that external influences inhibit us from being who we truly are, secluding ourselves from our normal environment allows us to explore who we are. Living in an environment where we are surrounded by individuals from different economic and/or cultural backgrounds will cultivate a positive environment by reducing the ignorance which will not be tolerated. This will cause a chain reaction and will lead to a decline in the crime rate and inevitably incarceration rates as well as a rise in college attendance.

Take my neighborhood for example. The population consists of predominantly lower middle class Jamaicans and African Americans. Most of the teens here are trapped in their own little world where they are interfaced with poverty, gang violence, drugs, and teen pregnancy. These young men and women see no bright future because they cannot see beyond their current condition. They do not know any better. They haven't been around people who have gone to college or friends whose' fathers are doctors or lawyers. Since they have not experienced an alternative environment they remain with the same mentality and perpetuate the ignorance. There is a small population of unique kids who will break the vicious cycle of poverty and attend college but for most kids higher education is not tangible.

Diversifying the residential community will allow these kids to think outside of the box and give them a unique opportunity to interact with different people and change their thought process. In a diverse area a kid from the ghetto will be able to meet somebody who grew up down south but migrated to the north and share the same racial background but whose father is a doctor. They will be able to speak to somebody who grew up in India and whose father is a diplomat. Before they thought college wasn't feasible but now they do. Along with the feasibility of higher education the
teenagers are exposed to a new world of possibilities. Now they know that the environment they live in is not normal and that there is a better world out there.

The borough of Queens embodies this concept of diversity enhancing the environment. For the most part Queens is very diverse and has a low crime rate compared to the boroughs that are concentrated with the same social class and racial background (Bronx and Brooklyn). As a resident of the Bronx I can attest to that. Another concrete example is my mentoring program. In this mentoring program we mentor at risk youth from Far Rockaway (an area in which the residents have the same socio-economic and racial background). One of the program's goals is to broaden the kids' scopes of reality and take them outside of their every day environment (i.e. taking a trip to Manhattan or going to a retreat upstate).In the past years after this year long program the greater majority of these teens eventually end up either attending college or gaining stable employment.

I have been a witness to the magical effect diversity can have in numerous environments. Diversity spices up life and creates a progressive atmosphere. I strongly believe that diversity can change the world.

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