“Action days” are a bit of a double-edged sword. They do attract attention — as with German Diversity Day this week. Usually, though, the issue is then ignored for the rest of the year, writes Sheila Mysorekar.
https://www.dw.com-Diversity makes societies stronger
Diversity is not just a trendy topic for bombastic political speeches and the occasional sermon. Diversity — pluralism, variety — is a social reality: in Germany, in Europe, in every country on Earth. A social reality that is often ignored, treated as a problem, or simply argued away.
No society in the world is one-dimensional. There are old and young; different genders; diverse ethnic origins, religions, and languages; different sexual orientations; and a whole spectrum of talents and disabilities. An infinite variety of what people are, and what they can be. It is in diversity that the beauty of human life and the complex richness of cultures are revealed.
Diversity has always existed
This, however, is precisely what is often denied. Germany, and many other European countries, long had an ethno-nationalist understanding of their respective populations as homogeneous — a self-image that was never accurate, and is now wholly false.
European borders have always been fluid; they were frequently redrawn, and in every age people moved across Europe, settled elsewhere, and moved on to other continents, while people from other continents came to Europe. This was true in the Stone Age, it was true in the Middle Ages, and it is true today. Germany and Europe have always been diverse.
Nonetheless, some politicians try to win votes by inciting antipathy toward minorities — ethnic, religious, or sexual minorities.
And it works, unfortunately, both in Europe and on other continents.
Even countries that have always been multicultural, like Hungary or India, are pursuing dangerous policies of exclusion and discrimination.
Diverse participation strengthens society
It is therefore all the more gratifying that the German government clearly stated in its coalition agreement that Germany is a country of immigration. In doing so, it made official what has already long been a reality. However, this commitment on its own does not afford equal opportunities for everyone to participate in society.
Marginalized groups are largely excluded from fields such as justice, politics, or higher education. It is quite usual for people to be disadvantaged or discriminated against on account of their origin or socio-economic background: in the housing or labor markets, for example.
This doesn’t have to continue. We all have a duty to enable diverse participation. If we as a society are to be fit for the future, every country needs all of its inhabitants.
The diversity of people and their skills are precisely what is needed in what will be a difficult future. Besides, everyone has the right — the human right — to participate in and help shape the society in which they live.
The concentration of power in the hands of a few very homogeneous groups has ruined this planet. Social inequality is increasing all over the world; millions of people are starving; climate change has brought us to a dangerous environmental tipping point.
If the human race wants to survive — in a better-designed world — it can only do so if everyone is included, with a shared vision of the future.
Sheila Mysorekar is the chairperson of the neue deutsche organisationen, or “new german organizations,” a national network of post-migrant organizations and initiatives working against racism and campaigning for diversity.
This opinion article was originally written in German.