[title_box title=”I’ll Write What You’re Thinking: Diversity matters”]
Let me preface this column by letting everyone know where I stand.
I am an American citizen who is not defined by a political party. I do not like crazy “PC-bro” liberals and I do not like crazy Christian conservatives who rely on nothing but the Bible for their political views.
That’s not to say there is anything wrong with watching your speech out of respect for people or reading your Bible everyday. But it is the extremists on both the left and the right that drive me nuts.
The way I see it, anyone who believes their views are 100 percent correct is stupid. There isn’t one “right” way. All of us, as humans, are different and changing. How can someone be so arrogant that they don’t listen to what other people say? Knowledge, from all backgrounds, is what improves us.
I like guns in homes. I like gay people getting married. I like conservative economics. I like the idea of legalizing recreational drugs. I like less government interference. I like social freedom. Abortion is too confusing, so I’ll say I remain pretty neutral on that one.
I think that, for the most part, I’m pretty much in the middle. I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I just try to think about things. I like to look at both sides. Why make group-based decisions about individuals?
With all that said, I have reached a conclusion:
Now, I’m not going to lie. When I first heard that a Senate panel voted to strip funding from UT’s diversity office, I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. Was it really that big of a deal?
And admittedly, I usually can’t hear the word “diversity” without thinking about Anchorman and Ron Burgundy.
But then, I thought a little more about it.
Diversity means variety. It means different. Its synonyms are words like “mixture,” “variation,” and “contrast.”
Without diversity, our lives would be extremely boring. We would be a nation of people who looked the same, talked the same, thought the same, and were the same. Who would be excited about that?
I’m not about to go into the specifics of diversity in today’s society. I’m not educated enough on the matter to do so. I can’t tell you if certain groups are marginalized or underrepresented. And I can’t tell you if there is enough diversity in Hollywood or not.
But I can tell you what diversity has done for me.
When I was in high school, I thought I was a conservative. I had never experienced an environment other than my home in rural Arkansas. I had views that were stupid and poorly thought out.
When I got to UT, I took an African Studies class to fulfill a cultural studies requirement. The class was taught by Dr. Amadou Sall, who is from Africa (just like all the rest of us, as he would no doubt tell you).
Dr. Sall prompted me to think in ways I hadn’t thought before. It was a life-changer for me. I wasn’t a racist, but my views were extremely narrow. He made me, and others, realize that the idea of separation between people was terribly disappointing to him. In Africa, communities are tight.
The class was hard from an information standpoint. I did C- work, yet ended up with a B+. That’s because Dr. Sall didn’t care so much about letter grades. He cared about people leaving with the ability to think. I thank him for that.
Interestingly, the class was full of different kinds of people. There were white students, such as myself, a lot of black students, and an Asian girl that I remember in particular. Also, there was a “hippy” kind of girl, who came in with braided hair, colorful clothing, and a scent of marijuana every day. Hey, cool with me.
There were a ton of different opinions and different backgrounds in the class. That is what made it thrive. It was diverse. People had different views. When people think differently than you, as long as you listen to what they say, you become smarter. Weighing different opinions in your head is healthy. And it stems from diversity.
After that class, I was changed. My views became very left-heavy. I went from a conservative person to a liberal person just like that. It only took opening my mind. However, as I’ve grown over the past two or three years, many of my “left” views have diminished as well.
I think more conservatively on some things now. As I said earlier, I think I am honestly right in the middle. These days, I’m not a liberal or a conservative. I’m just a guy who does his best to listen to people.
Diversity helped me learn how to listen and how to think.
It is important because it exposes us to people who are different than us. When you think in a certain way, then someone presents information that counters your views, isn’t that great? Politics, religion, sports… None of it would be any fun if we were all the same.
At least, to me it does.
“I’ll Write What You’re Thinking” is a column written by Tennessee Journalist sports editor Cody McClure. The opinion of our writers/bloggers are not a reflection of the opinion of the Tennessee Journalist as a whole.
Featured image by Wade Rackley
Edited by Jessica Carr