“Diversity brings about the opportunity to learn new perspectives and, in so doing, to increase creativity and innovativeness for both individuals and groups” (Gruman, Schneider, & Coutts, 2012). While I agree with that statement, I have to point out that diversity can obviously also lead to things such as prejudice, discrimination, and some conflict. We are all different based on how we look, how we behave, our background, gender, and socioeconomic status. Diversity can affect us positively or negatively and that can depend on many different things. One example that I would like to use is my own background and experiences.
I was born in Bosnia and was three years old when my family moved to Germany in order to escape the Yugoslavian war in the early 90s. We spent nearly nine years in Germany and, since I was so young when we moved, I had no memory of Bosnia. Germany and that culture was all that I knew. At that time, there were all sorts of people living in my town who came from a different culture. We all managed to blend in with the Germans, while also maintaining our own traditions. Somehow it all worked, so we experienced little to no discrimination. The negative conflicts that happened came in the late 90s when a few local government officials decided that it was time for a few of the Bosnian families to leave Germany. We were on that list and were given a choice – either go back to Bosnia or move to the United States. We chose the United States because there was nothing left for us in Bosnia and a few family members had already moved to the USA at that time.
We faced negative conflict and discrimination when we moved to the United States and had to yet again learn a new language and learn about the new culture. Although our new home had a diverse group as well, it somehow included more negative conflict. When we moved here, I was finishing the seventh grade and barely spoke English. It gave the other kids a reason to bully me, which affected my self-esteem. They believed that their group was superior and that I was the ‘lower class’, so to speak. Thinking back on it, it made my social and personal identity stand out. “Social identity theory suggests that it is the context within which individuals find themselves that determines which type of identity – personal or social – will predominate” (Gruman, Schneider, & Coutts, 2012). I think that back then, the social identity dominated because the new environment that I found myself in evoked the sense of social identity. Now I would say the personal identity dominates more because I am more aware of myself and focus on that rather than the social group that I find myself in.
“Anywhere humans exist, diversity will exist” (Gruman, Schneider, & Coutts, 2012). We need to find ways to minimize discrimination and find resolutions that can maximize positive outcomes because in the end it affects all of us and we all have the common goal of embracing our differences and living in peace.
Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.