Getting Back to the Genesis of Diversity – by Ijeoma “EJ” Unegbu, EdD
When some people hear the word diversity, there may be a negative connotation due to its historical and political track record. For believers, we’re called to a higher standard.
Diversity was initiated by God, as clearly reflected in His creation. In typical fashion, the devil likes to copycat all God has made good and pervert it. The goal of the devil is division. There is a secular version of diversity that’s predicated on the ways of the world and submits to a government “democracy” shrouded in polls, societal opinion, and pop culture.
For us, transformed by God’s Word, we know we’re called to be countercultural. Biblical diversity is grounded in God’s Word, the Bible, and submits only to God’s authority. Diversity isn’t just racial; it can include wide-ranging socio-economic experiences, different tribes/ethnicities, cultures, and tongues, and exposure to varied learning environments, and even physical abilities.
While diversity deals with differentiation bordering on the natural, equity requires us as humans to examine each other’s unequal endowment and come up with remedies to see how we can improve the fortunes of the less endowed. Equality is to each according to their endowment. Three cups – 4oz, 8oz, 16oz filled with liquid have one common characteristic. They are all full. Equity cannot make them equal. Our fingers are not even equal. However, they are complimentary, but not conflicting. Each finger contributes to the effectiveness of the hand!
I’m glad Grace Community is intentionally making the move toward the practice of Biblical diversity. This practice isn’t about checking a politically correct box or being programmatic. It’s about going back to Genesis, and reflecting what God saw as good.
I started as the new Director of Equity and Inclusion June 1, 2022. Within this short period, I’m happy to share what God is doing at our school. First, is the formation of our Imago Dei Diversity Council, made up of Grace students. The Council is comprised of three committees: (1) the Community Engagement committee; (2) the Activities and Enrichment committee; and (3) the Embrace committee. Each committee provides students an option to approach diversity in a way that most resonates with them. In community engagement, students can have regular engagement collaborations to serve with community and church partners and with our sister school, Promise Academy, in north Tyler. The goal of activities and enrichment is curating (or cultivating)social, project-based and educational events to grow cultural understanding, support spiritual development, and enhance lifelong learning. The embrace committee is about fostering a welcoming campus environment that encourages students to be kind to others, participate in ways that promote a civil and caring campus environment, and engage in collaborative problem solving.
The DEI office has also put into practice Sunday worship opportunities with church partners a few dates each semester. This provides Grace students and their families an opportunity to worship at other Christian churches in order to enrich their worship and fellowship experiences and expand their faith-based perspectives.
For this year’s “See You at the Pole” we had prayers in Spanish and Igbo languages. Igbo is a language of one of the three main Nigerian tribes. Next year we hope to have more languages featured.
This semester has also been an opportunity for me to go on what I call a listening tour to afford me the opportunity of familiarizing myself with the various constituencies of our beloved Grace Community. I have also sat in on classes, met with the members of Grace PTF, attended a faith-based DEI workshop with some Grace parents, had one-on-one conversations with various Grace employees and developed, or deepened relationships with our community and church partners. I anticipate a wonderful Spring 2023 of richer ways to incorporate diversity, God’s way, in our school. Stay tuned…
I once saw a t-shirt that read, “Let’s make Heaven crowded.” When it comes to inclusion, God wants Heaven for everyone. Let’s do our best as believers to make that happen. If you’re interested in playing a part in any of the aforementioned, please do not hesitate to contact me, Ijeoma “EJ” Unegbu, Ed.D., Director of Equity and Inclusion, at email@example.com.