Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Diversity Reading Challenge Essay
It is a word unlike any other. The reason? It describes an entire world without actually telling you anything. It says that there are many different things making up the bigger picture.
Our world is diverse. No two people are the same, no two governments are the same, no two countries are the same. About 6,500 languages are spoken around the world and about 730 religions (not counting the thousands of denominations). There are democratic countries, and communist countries, and countries that just want to be left alone.
People in the spotlight are sometimes just as well known for what aspect of diversity they represent as they are for their talent. I still don’t really know what Portia de Rossi does, and I know that I have looked it up multiple times. I do know that she’s married to Ellen DeGeneres. Sammy Davis Jr. married a white woman at a time when it was still illegal in a lot of states since he was a black man.
Our world is diverse. But my world has never really had much color to it. My high school was an all-girls Catholic high school of around five hundred girls total. About 20 of those girls were Hispanic, and somewhere between eight and ten Oriental and African-American girls each. Other than that, the most diversity was whether you were Catholic or not, or Irish or Scottish.
I reread the Harry Potter series over the summer, and while reading I realized just how great of an example of diversity it is. Three of the supporting characters—Dean Thomas, Angelina Johnson, and Lee Jordan—are African-American and given rather important parts. Dean dates Ginny Weasley at the end of the fifth book and through part of the sixth, and in the seventh book is captured by Death Eaters and saved by Harry. Angelina is part of Harry’s first Quidditch team, eventually is Quidditch captain, and she dates Fred Weasley. Lee is also associated with the twins, in fact he’s their best friend, and he’s the Quidditch announcer while at Hogwarts. All three of these characters, while they seem minor in retrospective, play important roles.
Also, although never mentioned in the books, a major character, Dumbledore, was revealed to be gay by J. K. Rowling in an interview. He had formerly had feelings towards a wizard by the name of Grindelwald, and probably retained some of these until his death.
As an all-girls high school, we asked the guys to prom. My prom date was one of my best friends, and I brought him because I knew I’d enjoy myself. He also happened to be the first guy friend I had that came out as gay. I wasn’t really surprised by this, a lot of us had been guessing it for a while, but it was still a little difficult for some people to grasp.
Book series like the Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black and the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare bring to light more of his situation than the character of Dumbledore does. Corny, in Blacks books, is a teenager who just can’t seem to get life right, but eventually ends up with a steady boyfriend. He provides a really nice example for the not-so-flamboyant, but not the I’m-in-the-closet-and-going-to-stay-there type. In the Mortal Instruments, you get two very strong opposing gay characters. One, Magnus, is very sparkly and out there in a rather in your face sort of fashion. The other, Alec is very to himself, but has moments when you can clearly tell that he is gay. Both of these characters, as well as Corny, present different examples to the world in ways that aren’t overly pushy.
The real book that was the shining diversity example of my summer was Keeping You A Secret by Julie Anne Peters. This was the first time that I had really read a book where it was not only that the main character was the diverse character, but it was also the first book I had read that had a very strong lesbian character. I had two friends at my school that started a relationship with each other about a year ago, and I admitted to each of them that while I wasn't completely comfortable with it, I would be supportive because they were both my friends. When I read this book, however, my mind seemed to come a little more at peace with their relationship. I know that they haven’t faced all of the problems with family and friends that happen in this book, but they might and they’ll need me, and I’ll be there for them.
I don’t know why it was easier for me to accept my guy friend coming out than my two girl friends. Maybe it was because a lot of the girl on girl relationships in television end up breaking up and claiming bisexuality, which is perfectly fine, but it lacks the strong lesbian imagery that the gay guys have.
There are hardships with any sort of diversity, no matter which color of the spectrum. A lot of the time, there are long struggles throughout history for rights, or for equality—and it is getting better. In the 2008 election, we would have either had the first black president, Mormon president, woman president, or woman vice-president. But in my mind, we elected the 44th president, and that is all.
Such a big word to explain.
Such good characters.