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Giving Thanks for Diversity

“God did not burden the United States with a diversity of backgrounds, ideas and religions, He blessed America with them.” –Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (b.1944)

This Thanksgiving holiday, I hope our nation we will look at diversity as a blessing. This year has been a tumultuous one for ethnic groups across America and the world. Tolerance seems to have taken a backseat to fear, emotional outbursts, and occasionally violence.

Among the many nonprofit organizations for which I have worked, those focusing on the environment have taught me that human beings are no different from other animals in the sense that they have developed physically in unique and interesting ways over tens of thousands of years.

Yet oddly enough, while we are endlessly fascinated by the physical diversity found in birds, mammals, fish and the like, when it comes to our own species we are sometimes intolerant of those who look and behave differently from our own group. We sometimes fear those who hold religious beliefs dissimilar from our own, and those who maintain cultural traditions we do not understand.

Earlier this year during SXSW, I attended a series of sessions on Tech Inclusion. Hosted by Galvanize and the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings Initiative, the panel discussions began early on a Sunday morning in downtown Austin at the then-new offices of Atlassian, and continued all day. I learned about the challenges LGBTQIA citizens have securing and holding “regular” corporate jobs, about the misperceptions veterans re-entering the workforce face, how underrepresented minorities struggle in the workplace, as well as older generations and women.

After listening for several hours of well-considered discussion and dialogue, I felt the Tech Inclusion presentations should be televised and made available to a much broader audience. Not only the tech industry but every industry – and the general populace – would benefit.

While I revel in diversity, clearly, many are suffering at the hands of others as a result of being “different.” This fall, I am giving thanks for a diverse and fascinating world. And, I hope you will join me in promoting tolerance and understanding as we move forward toward 2017 and beyond. The survival of our species depends upon it.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” –Maya Angelou, American poet (1928-2014)

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!

Thank you for following Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog.

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