Embracing diversity in Indy

Posted by on Jun 20, 2017 in Culture & Diversity | 3 Comments

My fellow Hoosiers! What comes to mind when we think of the culture of Indianapolis? Sports, Art, Music, Food, Festivals… and of course, some of our most popular neighborhoods and attractions such as: Broad Ripple Village, Massachusetts Avenue, Fountain Square, The Canal & White River State Park, Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art; all of which are frequently visited.

What I find so unique is that when you visit these interesting neighborhoods, you see a very diverse group of individuals from all different- backgrounds and ethnicities coming together for one common goal, which is to enjoy the entertainment and scenery.

Culture is considered our “way of being”; it shapes our identity and influences our behavior. More specifically, our language, belief system, values, and behaviors. Embracing our own culture is great! How about also being open and embracing the cultures around us?

A good place to start would be our own personal neighborhood communities. Getting acquainted and developing relationships with your neighbors is a good way to get to know those around you, to build that trust. If your next-door neighbor is of a different ethnicity than yourself (your family), this is a great -opportunity to learn and increase your knowledge about their culture.

Building friendships in your community can help you and your family be more opened minded about the individuals living around you. As adults, it also sets a really good example for your children as well, encouraging them to build relationships with the kids in the neighborhood and in their classrooms.

In building cross-cultural relationships, we want to avoid assumptions and negative stereotypes about other cultures. This can hinder the process and discourage us from growing and developing positive relationships with one another. Even sometimes what we watch on television or social media can influence how we perceive and treat others. 

We must keep in mind that even if someone shares our same ethnicity, it does not mean that we have the very same background, in fact we may have a very different belief system. What is most important is that we listen, learn, embrace, and welcome ideas that are different from our own.

Within the workforce, cross-cultural relationships and diversity is imperative! A strong team of employees should consist of:  individuals of different age ranges, ethnicities, gender, religion, language, mental and physical ability. Open group discussion is a great team building strategy. Employees will know that their opinion is valued although it may be opposite of their colleagues.

“This can encourage different perspectives in which the team can be more effective in brainstorming, problem solving, and forming solutions. When you have a group of employees from different walks of life,  their opinions will more than likely be different.”

-Joy Redmon (What is Cultural Diversity?)

In terms of education in today’s society, we have access to many research tools regarding culture such as: online resources, textbooks, social media, traveling! If you have friends that are from different countries, they can also help you to better understand their cultural background.

My step-dad is Puerto Rican, my mother is African American.  Over the years, my step-dad has introduced our family to many Hispanic meals and traditions.  As an African American woman, I’m very interested in learning and exploring other cultures. Several years ago, I visited a local restaurant here in Indianapolis called “The Journey”, a buffet that serves traditional and contemporary Japanese and American dishes. I really enjoyed the experience!

I get so excited to hear young students say they are taking language courses in high school and college. It is good exposure and can encourage them to communicate with some of their classmates who are exchange students or may not be fluent in the English language.

We must always remember, listen, embrace, learn, and accept. Our differences is what makes us unique and great!

Most Diverse Colleges in Indiana/2017:

  • Purdue University
  • Earlham College
  • DePauw University
  • Indiana University
  • Purdue University-Northwest
  • Indiana State University
  • IUPUI

An Indiana native, Ashley Brown has a professional background in Social Work and is the Owner/Director of a local Event Planning Business here in Indianapolis. Ashley is very excited to blog and connect with her Community through IndyHub! In her spare time, she enjoys writing, journaling, volunteering, listening to music, trying new recipes and spending quality time with her family.

Data & images linked to sources.

3 Comments

  1. Chatiana Davis
    June 20, 2017

    This was very informative and has challenged me to further step out of my comfort zone and embrace different cultures/ethnicities around me. You’re right, you never know what you may have in common with someone until you actually engage and communicate.

    Reply
    • Ashley
      June 23, 2017

      Hi Chatiana!!
      Thank you for reading!! Hope you enjoyed it. I agree with you that once we engage with others, it can open up the door to positive friendships!

      Reply
  2. Leone
    July 24, 2017

    Ashley,

    This was a great read and so very informative. When I was growing up the neighborhood was like a village (everyone united and helping one another). I truly believe if we made an effort to get back to this (stop judging people without first getting to know them) there would be more unity, leading to new friendships and less division. We must learn to engage the person behind the mask we might actually like them.

    Reply

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