Does diversity really matter?

Dear Sista Friend,

A 2015 study from the March of Dimes notes that 13% of Black children are born premature – as compared to 9% of White and Hispanic children.

The national average for deaths per live births in the U.S. is 6.1 per 1,000, but the report finds it’s much higher for unwed, poor and young Black mothers. As one example, a Black mom in San Francisco is six times more likely than a white one to lose her baby before its first birthday (Save the Children).

That child will grow up in an environment that has displayed “a visible gap between parents’ and teachers’ assessments of black children.” According to the Economic Policy Institute, Black and White parents equally rate their children’s persistence, approaches to learning, and social interactions, but when teachers do the rating, Black students have a distinct disadvantage relative to whites in these skills.

It is noted that by three years old, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families. This disadvantage – albeit socioeconomic, racial or both – can lead to lifelong disadvantages when considering where they live, how much money they make, who they marry, if they marry, if they are a homeowner and their tendency for inclusion in the criminal system.

These are just the beginning of a life full of setbacks, disadvantages and thrown punches, simply based in historical context and on the color of one’s skin.

And, that is only the beginning. Years of systemic oppression, including slavery, the legalization of Jim Crow, redlining, the militarization of the police, unequal drug enforcement policies, unconscious bias, the myth of the ‘post racial’ society, inadequate healthcare and education, have all led to minorities building less, obtaining less and achieving less than our majority counterparts.

As we continue to seek to advance and educate ourselves and our families, we should also look to the collective of nameless faces who have strived to provide for our futures. Our psyches benefit from the idea that “if we can see it, we can become it.” There is now a generation of children who have only known a Black president – an effort that we can all hope to continue.

So – what is the solution? How do we change decades of unequal perceptions, actions and inactions? Honestly, this is a daunting question that plagues many individuals across the nation but here I seek to provide a few every day things we as individuals can do to overcome systematic obstacles and create change – even if it is on a small scale.Female University Student Sitting on a Library Floor Reading a Book

  • Education. The internet is a powerful place with an abundance of information. With the click of a button we can research anything and find various opinions regarding the subject. There is also this nifty tool called “Google Scholar.” Google Scholar provides actual research articles and studies that have been published in various journals, presentations, books etc.
    • In all honesty, we should consider taking it back to the basics: READ A BOOK. There are millions of books out there which hold a wealth of information that is vital to the progression of our personal growth and education.
      • *Although I recommend digesting all types of information, you should become a critical reader and thinker. Don’t just take anyone’s idea or opinion at face value. Analyze it, question it, and come to your own conclusion.
  • Conversation. Talking to those that agree with your viewpoints is a helpful start, but even more, having conversations with someone who disagrees with you is even more important. It is with these conversations that we begin to challenge one another’s perspectives and open our eyes to different ways of living and thinking.vote
  • Vote. It’s just that simple. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice. Take the time to research and educate yourselves on the issues and platforms of each of the candidates. Local elections matter. The primaries matter. Your employer is legally obligated to allow you to leave work to go vote. Take advantage of the rights our ancestors died for us to have. Voter registration deadlines are fast approaching. To quote President Obama, “Don’t boo, VOTE!”

Your Sista Friend,

Timka Lockheart

One Reply to “Does diversity really matter?”

  1. Nadine Tavera says: Reply

    Thank you for this piece, Timka!

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