It is appropriate that this forum, “The Shape of Diversity,” is a project of art and of artistic visualization, for the future progress of American and global civil rights will originate in the collective eyes of the artists of our time.
It is in Vision–the vision of the Artist–in which the Shape of Diversity will be revealed; it is in the recognition of the shades of diversity unseen by the many in which the equality of mankind will eventually be realized.

This dream will not necessarily come from those who claim to defend the innocence and dignity of the “children of God” of our country.  For, politically and socially speaking, many on the Christian Right have not the sensitivity to see truly those whom they should defend; their definition, “children of God,” has become narrowed. No longer do they stand for the breadth of all children of God, but they defend to the death the values they deem most beneficial to their own racial, economical, and moral cause.

Indeed, the political and social agendas of our day, spanning all degrees of the ideological sphere, obfuscate the the goal of true recognition of diversity’s value and of the achievement of universal civil rights.  These political and social groups suffer from a respectable, forgivable ignorance.  This ignorance will be cured by those who have the dream that there may come a day when none discredit the dignity of one’s life nor the dignity of one’s love.  When none discount the value of a human life because of race, religion, sexual orientation, class or habits of behavior.  These dreamers are precisely the Artists to whom I have referred above.

Likely, it will not be in our time that our goal is reached. For cultivating a love for the diversity that is our country and is our globalized world is to come to know and love something so remote and outside of ourselves, that somewhere within us stirs the inclination to refuse it the designation, “humanity.”  Directly or indirectly, too many of us, the world over, refuse to honorably name the other “human, equal.”  So too, human as we are, our vision is humbled by our overextending minds; our ideals are ever out of reach.  We see points and the dream is a line; we see lines and the dream is a square; we see squares and the dream is a cube; we see cubes and the dream is a tesseract.

Our nature is to struggle to achieve new levels of understanding in this progressive fashion.  One generation’s unimaginable dimension becomes the level ground of the next generation.  An interracial, heterosexual couple expect to be married in the sixties given their mutual love and devotion?  Status quo rejects them.  But can one locate a discernible difference  between their union and a union of whites?  Generally, the status quo of our day declares wholeheartedly, “No!”

In the 21st Century, man and a man or a woman and a woman expect to marry given their mutual love and devotion. Can a single difference be given between their mutual devotion and that of a heterosexual couple? Can one discern a difference between these unions that does not arise from whence the myths of the virtuous murder of infants and the abstinence of pork and shellfish arise?  Diet, cleanliness, and the moral structures of civilizations of millennia past aside, our concern should be the human life and love of our era.  We are speaking of the emancipation of the human spirit and of human love, predicated upon the achievements of civil rights victories of decades past.

This week pundit Rush Limbaugh made racial slurs about the Chinese.  California State Senator Leland Yee, of Chinese heritage, called for a boycott of Limbaugh’s advertisers.  In response, Limbaugh intensified his hate speech, focused it at Lee, and consequently his listeners have sent their opinions to the state senator.  Death threats and violent words and images–”Rush will kick your–”, “Die, you Chinese–”, our president in a noose–have been received by the state senator’s office.  Evidenced by this localized case and the multitude like it, the challenges to our dream of true equality are as alive now as they ever were.

We have indeed made progress and, arguably, ours is among the most integrated and free societies the world has seen.  But we have reached no apex, nor have we reached the end of any arc of history.  We have now a president who has fulfilled one aspect of the dream, but we must ask ourselves: “Can we seriously imagine a woman president?  an Asian American or Latino/a president? a homosexual president? Are our elected leaders truly representative of the diversity of their constituents?  Have there been any true shifts and sharing of power and authority?”  If these can’t be imagined now, they will never come to pass.

This forum and others like it are vital for our imaginings to become articulated thoughts and definite actions.  Forums such as this will unite the strategic thinking of individuals, sewing together these threads into the united ideals of an authentic movement for the equality of which we dream.