Reconceptualizing Diversity: Songs of Two Communities Harmonized Through One Spirit
Diversity, as an issue and a social phenomenon, is imperative for communities to thrive, particularly in urban regions like southeast Michigan where multiple ethnic groups flourish. In fact, the absence of properly managing diversity in this region has led to segregation, community and political conflict, and a diminished quality of life for the citizens in our community who represent a multiplicity of cultures. This is particularly challenging when wounds in the community are opened by media coverage that primarily focuses on the failure of society to adjust to and embrace diversity, as well as the inevitable negative outcomes of cultural ignorance. This paper reports on a community-based research project between Wayne State University and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion (MRDI) called “Diversity Works”. The project sought to explore diversity as a tool to build bridges that connect citizens to resources, provide increased opportunities for businesses, and begin to heal social wounds that have been open for decades. Through this aggressive research partnership, we collected brief case studies in various communities to highlight cross-cultural experiences to explore the degree to which diversity actually works in our region. This paper highlights in detail one of those cases, involving two choirs from two different denominations and geographic locations, and presents results from our study along with recommendations for bridging the racial/cultural divide. Through careful analysis of the case study vignettes and current literature, we identify key points for community intervention. Our findings have significant implications for both universities and community groups interested in forming such partnerships and implications for the study of difference in urban regions.
Keywords: Diversity, Community-based Research, Cross-cultural Communication
Dr. Donyale Griffin
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Wayne State University