Diversity shouldn’t be a dirty word

I had a conversation with someone the other day about our relocation and it made me start to ponder why I put such an importance on moving to one city versus another. It boils down to diversity.

I do not come from the mindset of not seeing color – I absolutely see color, culture, gender, and everything in between. I do, however, believe in diversity and it is important to me. I embrace the uniqueness in us all.

But I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how people use diversity. I once worked for a company that made the employees take multiple staged photos just to try to get one that showcased enough diversity so they didn’t look biased. Diversity in our workplace is such a PC thing…and can be super annoying when you are one that gets called for every staged photo.

Diversity was not something I grew up with, but not in the way you may think. I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley. The area is predominantly a Mexican and Mexican-American population. .According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008, 90 percent of Hidalgo County are Hispanic. (FYI – I prefer “Latino” since I do get asked a lot!)

I didn’t really realize it I didn’t grow up with diversity. I mean, I knew when someone was not Mexican, I knew I was different than they were. But I didn’t put much more thought into it.

Then in my teen years, a lot of friends would ask me (in a very judgy-tone), “Is your dad gringo?”

It’s funny because He was born in Mexico. On my dad’s side, I am a first generation American. He came to Texas at a young age, but didn’t receive his citizenship until I was in high school!

I never understood why people asked the way they did. I guess the thought of me being different, or not just like them, changed their perspective of me. This is all my speculation – when I asked they never really gave me a strait answer.

I was very fortunate to go to a private academy for my high school years. It was both a dorm and off-campus school, so we had people from all over the world. As far as Russia, Brazil, Central America, and as close as Houston and Austin. It was an incredible experience and opened my eyes to diversity. There weren’t traditional cliques at the school, but everyone embraced who they were and their cultures. I loved it so much, and in retrospect it was a big blessing on my naive mind.

Gotta love the 90’s.

Funny thing is I didn’t truly embrace my own culture until I moved away. Grass is always greener, huh? Studying in England, and then living in New Zealand for a year, taught me how very special (and different, in a good way) I really was. I knew who I was, but wasn’t necessarily proud of it – especially with the stigma of being Mexican in the U.S. But after traveling I became proud….I developed La Raza that I knew so many of my friends had from the Valley.

Fast forward many years later. As we prepare for our move from one side of Central Texas to another, we have been discussing the importance of where we will live. We need to be somewhere between San Antonio and Austin, but closer to SA because of Mi Amor’s  work territory.  Everyone keeps asking me why I do not want to live in SA, and while I do believe there is diversity, it is just not enough for me. I want my son to love his heritage, embrace being Americano y Latino, but also grow up around kids who come from all walks of life – culturally, socioeconomically, and with varying beliefs. I believe it will help him grow up to be more well rounded.

Here’s to hoping I am right, and we end up in the perfect place!

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Lisa Alfaro

About Lisa Alfaro

As a seasoned Marketing Communications Consultant, I help women in business engage their target audience through local marketing and social media strategies.

2 thoughts on “Diversity shouldn’t be a dirty word

  1. This is a great blog post! My parents were born in Portugal and I always grew up with a Portuguese culture. I grew up being around a lot of diversity and I think that’s so important!

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