The Beauty of Diversity
“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” -Margaret Mead
The population of the United States has more than tripled in the twentieth century, and we are becoming ever more diverse as we grow. The Ozzie and Harriet family of the 50’s, with a married husband and wife, dad the breadwinner and mom at home with the kids, is no longer the norm. According to the census, only 23% of all households are now composed of the original, so-called nuclear family. In contrast, more than two-thirds of families have two parents earning wages. In every child’s classroom, there are kids from single parent families, families with gay parents, kids with multiple parents and step-parents, kids with older parents. And the list goes on. Leave It to Beaver has been replaced by shows like Modern Family and Parenthood which represent the more typical realities of our times.
More weaving of difference is happening to romantic partnerships in America. More adults are living together without tying the knot, and most young adults are choosing to wait until they are older to form legal partnerships. Marriages of two individuals of different races, religions, and ethnicities are also on the rise as taboos against this have faded significantly. For example, more than 25 percent of Asian Americans marry cross-ethnically. This rate is more than three times higher than the general intermarriage rate in the U.S, which is 7 percent and growing. Asian groups that have been in the U.S. longer, like the Japanese or Chinese, are even more likely to intermarry. We are indeed becoming a global village.
There are, simultaneously, many challenges of this rapid change and increasing complexity of our nation. As anthropologist Mead so eloquently expressed, we must recognize all of the vastly different strengths that come from these changes and, at the same time, find ways to celebrate and honor our uniqueness. Just as we have learned that planting diverse crops brings greater resistance to pests, greater adaptability and hybrid vigor, the future will bring new kinds of strong, loving–and diverse–families.