Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Raytown, ahead of its time

Growing up in modern America you are reminded of the need to 'embrace diversity.' Living in a society with the historical plagues of racism and slavery does not make it easy to 'embrace diversity.' Through the abolishment of slavery by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 and 1863, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, desegregation, Affirmative Action and many other community efforts geared to embracing diversity our modern society still strives to create an atmosphere that Martin Luther King Jr. described in famous speech, I have a dream.
Embracing diversity as a child growing in the Raytown School system is a given. I stated at Laurel Hills Elementary school and graduated from Raytown High School. No one had to teach me to embrace diversity. No one had to show me the value of other cultures and ways of life. Our Church here in Raytown was featured in the Kansas City Star as being one of the most Diverse churches in the country! The head line read 11/17, “Church family spans the globe; An outreach to international students helps create one of the most diverse congregations in the nation”. Currently over 20 languages are spoken at our church. Diversity was a way of life.

I noticed the way that Raytown had shaped me when I started attending classes at UMKC. UMKC is the most diverse school in the UM system. So naturally, it was an environment that I was used to. I had incredible ease relating to anyone from any ethnic background, race, creed or ideology. Other students were not so sure of themselves. Being outside of their buble was a real challenge. I could tell some people were uncomfortable with people who were not like them. But in life, we rarely chose who we interact with at work, church, or simply going out. We can do our best to shelter our way of life but I believe that only robs us from experiencing a deeper understanding of humanity and keeps us from growing as a person. As a professional, I now notice my ability to relate to anyone. Only Raytown could have taught me that!

Below are the statistics taken from www.greatschools.net Comparing Raytown High School racial statistics with the state average.
White, not Hispanic
Raytown: 59%
State Average: 77%
Black, not Hispanic
Raytown: 34%
State Average:18%
Raytown: 5%
State Average:3%
Asian/Pacific Islander
Raytown: 2%
State Average:2%
American Indian/Alaskan Native
Raytown: <1%
State Average:<1%

As you can see, we either meet or exceed the state average in Diversity.

1 comment:

David Lea said...

Like your approach...we have the same passion for changing raytown...I own the new DLT Fitness Studio in the Raytown Plaza...would like to meet you and perhaps help join "forces"?

David Lea