Embracing the melting pot

Why public acceptance of diversity is essential


Graphic by Tiger Times staff.

Why public acceptance of diversity is essential.

    America’s second name is essentially ‘the melting pot’ since it has many different cultures, beliefs and people integrated into its history and foundation. While it is true that America is one of the most diverse regions in the world, the nation still has a lot of trouble fully embracing that fact. The U.S. still has a lot of work to be done before it can fully and truly be viewed as a place welcome to anyone from any background. 

    Justin Pearson is a Black state representative for Tennessee. He wore a traditional West African loose-fitted shirt, called a Dashiki, to the Tennessee Statehouse. According to Wreg, upon arrival, Rep. David Hawk made a comment emphasizing the fact that a huge part of respecting and honoring the legacy of the statehouse is the way the lawmakers dress. Hawk mentioned that wearing a tie and jacket is necessary, and while he did not specifically call out Pearson, it was very much directed at the new representative as he was the only one who was supposedly ‘out of dress code.’ 

    Hawk also added that the dress code was put in place in order to honor the late Speaker Pro Tempore, Lois DeBerry. Hawk talked about how he was told by Speaker DeBerry that he would not be allowed to enter the statehouse without a tie and suit, therefore, the same rule needed to be applied to Pearson. However, Representative Karen Camper said that Hawk’s use of DeBerry’s name was a disgrace itself since DeBerry would not “embarrass a new member.” Instead, she would use the opportunity to educate them. The situation did not stop there, controversy arose on Twitter when the Tennessee House GOP tweeted, “If you don’t like the rules, perhaps you could explore a different career opportunity that’s mean purpose is not creating them.” 

    As a response, Pearson expressed that he thought it was important for him to honor and pay homage to his ancestors who helped him get to the position that he is in now. He also thought that showing up in traditional Black clothing would prove to be extremely powerful and show how far Black people have come, especially during Black History Month. 

    I completely agree with this mindset and his intentions as he is showing the general public that he will not forget his roots. To me, this sends a message that his time being a Tennessee representative will be dedicated to creating laws that are beneficial for Black people, and honoring where he came from, which is especially important since their needs and achievements get swept under the rug, otherwise. 

    The response to this situation is extremely dangerous, however, as it shows how little our own government is willing to accept and embrace different cultures. For all they know, a Dashiki could be the equivalent of a suit and tie in West African culture. Furthermore, according to Drexel University, it is beyond important to integrate different cultures and traditions into American media as it will allow the general public to have awareness of the beauty of different cultures. It also forces the public to recognize that the diversity in America is only growing and that they need to accept and get used to it in order for the country to continue to flourish. 

    Drexel University also found that including diverse cultures in media will allow those who come from the same culture to appreciate and embrace their identity more in a country that falls victim to extreme white-washing of cultures and traditions. Therefore, while it is understandable that there are certain dress codes and rules within the government, the inclusion of diversity in those rules is necessary and should happen immediately in order to catch up with the growing diversity of the country. Especially on a governmental scale as nearly everyone is aware of government officials, meaning the ideology of cultural inclusion and acceptance will be integrated into America’s foundation more efficiently. Otherwise, if we do not allow people, including government officials, to completely embrace their culture in any setting, it is sending a message that minorities will continue to be excluded. No matter how much of a ‘melting pot’ America is, people of different backgrounds and cultures will never be fully accepted as there are ‘white standards’ that are prioritized and need to be upheld.