May 17, 1997 in City

It’s Us Or It’s Them? Better Learn Better

By The Spokesman-Review

It’s 25 years from now. You are an older person, dependent on others for much of your care. All your life, you managed to avoid thinking about diversity. You lived in a fairly white town. Worked at a fairly white company. No one in your family married interracially.

You never considered yourself a racist but you didn’t think about diversity much. Didn’t have to. But now you are older. And dependent. Your doctor is Latina. The lawyer who handles your finances is African American. The visiting nurse who comes to your home three times a week is an Asian man. The work force pumping money into Social Security is no longer mostly white. Almost half of the nation’s workers are people of color. It’s a new world.

At the recent Hispanic Graduate Awards Banquet in Spokane, keynote speaker Dr. Carlos Cortes of the University of California talked about the future in which the white majority will no longer be so. He said “interdependence” will be the key word guiding us in this new world.

Interdependence is a word of trust. People build trust when they understand differences and similarities. Cultural diversity is a loaded phrase these days, a phrase that connotes some stereotypes of its own. But you’ll have an opportunity to move beyond stereotypes and labels Tuesday at “Dreams into Reality: A Community Congress on Race Relations.” The daylong event will explore the richness and complexity of diversity.

The congress, free and open to the public and sponsored by the Spokane Task Force on Race Relations, will be held at the Spokane Convention Center. There are more than 60 different classes and lectures, topics diverse enough to fit everyone’s interests. Curious about the history of Native Americans and African Americans in the Northwest? Or the experience of biracial families? Do you wonder what you can do about racism? Or what you can do to be sure your children don’t grow up racist? You can satisfy your curiosity at the congress.

Or maybe you just like to hear great music. Yes, there will be entertainment, too. No one said diversity couldn’t be fun.

In Sunday’s IN Life section, we will print the entire program. Look it over. Then plan to stop in for an hour. Or the entire day. Doesn’t matter.

The important thing is to take advantage of the opportunity to be educated. And have some fun. Diversity is a buzz word now, true, but it’s also the future that’s already here.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email