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Jennie's Journey

Cultural diversity often leads to divisiveness

Living in a culturally diverse community often brings with it several challenges, as well as a multitude of benefits.

Living in the Lower Valley for as many years as I have I have often wondered at the arguments several make regarding honoring a certain cultural heritage.

There are many cultures here, including the Dutch and Hispanic cultures. There is an ever-growing Asian population, as well.

I appreciate the great diversity these cultures provide. I grew up in a small community with five distinct cultures presenting themselves. We embraced each individual for who they were and what they contributed to the community.

We appreciated and honored the unique traditions they brought to the community and embraced every one of the cultures as something from which we could learn.

What I have always failed to understand because of this background is the ethnic divisiveness some are intent to cultivate.

If one particular part of the population doesn't understand why they are the targets of racism, they need only to look at those around them. They need to analyze the actions of those connected to them. Then, decide if the actions of those individuals might create a negative outlook on the culture. Has someone you know of your own race given others a reason to look upon your "race" in a negative manner?

Stand up and make yourself heard or seen in a positive light. Stand against the negative activities that might engender the negative outlook.

The power is in your hands. You can change the perception of others.

I always tell individuals who don't understand someone else's negative outlook on them, "You hold in your hand the paintbrush. You have the ability to change the canvas, creating the picture you would like others to see."

Many don't know my cultural heritage just merely by looking at me. They don't know how diverse my bloodline is unless I share my experiences and the experiences of those before me.

If you want others to embrace and honor your culture, I believe you have the power of connecting and relating with those around you what makes you so unique.

For those who argue, "There are too many who are prejudiced against me," ask yourself why.

For individuals busy committing crimes and associating themselves with criminals, ask yourself if you are honoring your culture through such activity. Are you educating others about the positive aspects of your heritage, or are you showing others there is nothing to be appreciated about someone with your background? Are you honoring your parents and those who have worked so hard to give you the opportunity to live in a free society?

If the answer is no, I believe you still wield the power to change that. I believe you can choose to show the world the positives associated with your great heritage.

This is the land of opportunity...you either choose to rise to the occasion or fall flat based on your self-inflicting actions.

So I urge you to stand for what is right and good rather than continue to allow yourself and others to muddy the waters or paint what is perceived as ugly and wrong.

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