by Lynne Koral
Diversity is a multi-faceted concept. We are using mentorship to increase diversity of racial and ethnic groups in ACB. Though it is correct to center our diversity efforts on racial and ethnic diversity, there are more ways to define diversity. ACB needs to concentrate on state, special-interest and national leadership of people who have been excluded from leadership. If we only have one person who is Latino/Latina, for instance, or one black person, or one Asian American/Pacific Islander or Native American, that smacks of tokenism. That does not increase overall diversity. However, diversity cannot be used as a buzzword or in some way of getting on the bandwagon of other groups who have championed diversity.
Diversity should also include religious diversity. There are those who practice differently from the dominant culture, such as Jews, Islamic people, Baha’i, Mormons, and Seventh-day Adventists. To improve understanding and lessen stereotypes, we must look at religious diversity in ACB also.
Many people feel threatened by diversity, and they might feel as if it is being forced upon them. We live in a pluralistic society, and that is true in ACB. By understanding that there is diversity in thought as well as in race, ethnicity, religion and sexual identity and preference, we will come a long way in our beloved ACB. But in order to do that, we all must check our prejudices to be open to a more diverse membership and leadership. Diverse people will be welcomed if we have the right attitude of acceptance and curiosity about people who are different from each other. We will then have an ACB which fosters diversity and looks at the merits of each person. We are moving toward this, and states are forming committees to enhance diversity, which is very important. Washington state has formed an ad hoc committee to foster diversity. This is a good thing, because even though we are blind, our shared and different experiences will build a bigger and more diverse membership.