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Elk Grove Sets An Example for All Our Communities to Follow. How About Our Own Pledge to Diversity?

g_ask_kurt_bustToday, August 1, the city of Elk Grove, California launches a diversity campaign that recognizes Elk Grove’s demographics and offers an online pledge.

The campaign comes on the heels of the U.S. Census Bureau reporting that 70,478 of Elk Grove’s 153,015 residents are white, meaning nonwhites now outnumber whites for the first time in Elk Grove community history.

“The census data showed us the city has a very diverse population,” said city spokesperson Christine Brainerd, who is spearheading the campaign.

The online pledge that residents, and anyone else who recognizes the importance of diversity, can take states the following:

“I realize no one in Elk Grove is exactly like me and that’s an amazing thing.

“I respect my neighbors for the things we have in common and for our differences.

“I resolve that we all need to get along to make our community the best it can be.

“I pledge: peace, love, friendship, unity, acceptance, tolerance, and respect for Elk Grove.”

People can input their names which will be included in the matting of a framed poster used in the campaign. That framed poster will become another piece of public art. In addition, persons who take the online pledge can also upload a picture that will be routed into a diversity face jumble that shows a different picture every time the web page is refreshed.

When I read about this campaign I was inspired to share it with the metropolitan Detroit community.  The last two decades have brought incredible changes to the region and all the communities within.

The decade of the 1990s was one of growth through unprecedented immigration streams – from Asia, the Middle East, Mexico and South America and Eastern Europe.  The most recent decade was marked by decreasing immigration but unprecedented movement of the African American community from the city of Detroit to the suburbs.  the war in Iraq brought large numbers of Chaldean refugees to our region, while the Arab, Asian and Latino communities continued to grow.

While the majority of our communities may not reach the 50+ percent mark for persons of color that was found in Elk Grove, each can look around and see the wonderful mix of diversity that was not there a decade or so ago.  Remember that our diversity is much more than the Federal government measures.  In addition to African American, Asian, Native American and Latinos, we must celebrate those of us who broaden our diversity but usually come out White in the Census: our Arab brothers and sisters, from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc., our large Chaldean community, Eastern Europeans from Romania, Russia, Albania, and many, many more.

While every community in Southeast Michigan could mirror Elk Grove, perhaps a better way of recognizing the strength of our region and the need for Regional Unity is to initiate a “Southeast Michigan Diversity Pledge.”  I am ready…how about you?