As I watched the historic and emotional Inauguration of President Barack Obama, I pondered the future of diversity as we know it. As someone who was born at the cusp of the Generation X and Millennial generations, I tend to identify with both groups’ attributes, especially when it comes to accepting and celebrating diversity.
Obama’s victory, as our nation’s first African-American president, not only reflected this ability of young voters to embrace diversity, but also highlighted the fact that race was not the reason that they cast their ballots for him. Polls of younger voters consistently indicated that they were motivated primarily by his message of change, not his race.
It’s not uncommon these days for those of us in Generation X and the Millennial groups to attend school, socialize and work with people who are from different backgrounds than our own. As a group, we are more comfortable with diversity, which is why during this election we as younger voters came out to support a candidate that inspired us and who we felt was qualified to move our country forward. Very few of the fellow Generation X or Millennial voters that I talked to even mentioned Obama’s race.
To us it was simply no big deal. Every day we encounter people, whether in real life or in the media, who are different from us in some way, making it easier for us to be comfortable with differences.
That’s why I wonder what will happen to the post-election discussions on diversity. Young people today realize there are differences, but like this election has shown, they are not as emotionally invested in them as previous generations were. And now, they have a role model who exemplifies diversity.
How do you think an Obama presidency will transform the discussion on diversity?