What the Olympics can teach us about diversity

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Can you believe it? This year, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team consists of two black girls, a Hispanic girl, and two white girls–the most diverse it’s ever been I’m sure–and one of the black girls is believed to be the best gymnast in the world (arguably).

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I’m not talking about the fact that three minorities made the team being unbelievable, but the fact that nobody questions it. (Nobody American at least.)

What do I mean by that?

Well did you watch the American team walk into the opening ceremony in their dope navy blue jackets? Did you see what I saw: various races, ages, genders, etc.?

It’s even making headlines how an African-American Muslim woman is expected to bring home gold for the USA.

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The diversity was beautiful to me. No other country’s team looked like the USA’s.

It’s a testament to one of the key things that makes the United States unique. We continue to pop out among a sports arena of homogeneous societies.

My heart warmed more by all of the pride in the USA team that I saw across social media, from every American ethnicity.

No one questioned their right to be there. They are believed to be the best that America has to offer, from 100 meter dash to ping-pong.

Yet, when diversity is asked of the United States in a different medium apart from sports, namely the work force and higher education, things change.

In colleges and universities, a minority’s right to be there is questioned. In the work force, criticisms of a lack of diversity are met with “well we don’t want to lower the bar.”

I asked myself why this is, why the American public can readily accept diversity in one area and not the other. Could it be the same reason the Italian gymnastic association gave, that minorities, black people in particular, are genetically wired to be good at sports? And, if this is the case, are we genetically wired to be inferior in math, science, technology, and other fields that minorities are grossly underrepresented in?

I know that the answer to this is no, but when employers give excuses that diversity means lowering the bar, I know that they do not agree with me. I know that many white 18-22 year-olds do not agree with me because they quietly assume that their black and Latino classmates got in because of affirmative action. (Or on a sports scholarship. Apparently colleges just hand out acceptance letters and hard work has nothing to do with it.)

It’s racism–the very fabric of America.

But what if everyone cheered for their fellow countrymen in every field, whether black, brown, yellow, non-Christian, queer, or woman? What would that look like?

The Olympics.

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