OP-ED: Unity in diversity


Nusaybah Smith

Young girl calls for unity in the face of elections.

Each year, in history class, we as students learn about the history of our nation. Throughout the year, we concentrate and listen with pride as we grasp how our country achieved greatness. There is, however, one topic year after year where this is not the case: racism. Whenever this topic surfaces, suddenly the room goes silent, and every student ducks their head in shame as we wonder, “How could we have ever been so inhumane?” Next year, we as a people have a momentous decision laid before us; we need to elect a president. This president will both configure our identity as a nation for the next four years and permanently inscribe upon the pages of history the character of our nation for this time. Consequently, when we elect a president, we must choose wisely, appointing someone who will inscribe for us a history that we will be proud to reminisce upon.

One of the most defining attributes of the United States is diversity; we accept everyone for who they are, encouraging individualism and uniqueness everywhere. However, unfortunately, to our shame, this was not always the case. Many times we shunned our own people for expressing their heritage and culture, saying, “”[i]f you want to be American, speak ‘American.’ If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong.” (Anzaldúa 1). How can we ever ask someone to give up their cultures and traditions, the very qualities that define who they are? Asking someone to forsake their heritage is comparable to asking an apple tree to magically produce pears because we wish it would. We should embrace everyone for their diversity, and in promoting diversity, we also incite unity because as time progresses, everyone in the nation will be proud to identify as an American. No longer will anyone feel displaced to the point that they will, “call [themselves] Mexican-American to signify [they] are neither Mexican nor American” (Anzaldúa 1). When we elect a president, we need to ensure that they will protect our dream of unity as a nation and not further the already existing cracks of racial and cultural division that threaten our society.

The United States was founded on the principle of democracy and diplomacy. The last time war was declared, 407,300 American citizens died. It is true that sometimes, war is needed to ensure peace. Nonetheless, we should avoid the plague that is war unless all means of diplomacy fail. In exhibiting respect for other countries and their beliefs rather than rushing into aggression, we demonstrate tolerance. Promoting tolerance does not render us fragile, rather it proves that we retain a power, “[s]tubborn, persevering, impenetrable as stone, yet possessing a malleability that renders us unbreakable” (Anzaldúa 2). In addition, it is imperative that we exhibit compassion to those who need our help. “I don’t believe that one is born compassionate. Compassion is not a character trait like a sunny disposition. It must be learned, and it is learned by having adversity at our windows, coming through the gates of our yards, the walls of our towns, adversity that becomes so familiar that we begin to identify and empathize with it” (Asher 3). Our selections of president sets into motion the international interactions that determine the identity of the United States in relation to the rest of the world. Regardless of who the eventual president will be, it is vital that when we look back upon these years in history, we remember them fondly as a time when our nation showed strength and character, even when it was not easy to do.

Furthermore, our choice of president has an impact on every single aspect of our lives. The man or woman we elect will influence not only our economy, jobs, and taxes but also our education, civil rights, and families. Regardless of who you feel should be the new president of the United States of America, realize that this person will indirectly control your entire life. When we designate a president, it is crucial to look at all aspects of their campaign, not just one. By focusing on only a few aspects of someone’s campaign, positive or negative, we might miss momentous details in the greater picture. Despite having different beliefs, across our country everyone wants one thing: unity. We all hope that “One day the inner struggle will cease and a true integration take place” (Anzaldúa 2). As we vote, we need to come together as a people and truly evaluate who will be best for our nation, not just ourselves.

A common misconception is that unity in politics is completely impossible. While it is true that a divergence in beliefs will always exist, I do not believe this means that unity cannot exist. Unity is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification”. So, this being true, if everyone voted not for who they believed would be best for them individually, but for who they believed would be best for the country, by the definition, we have achieved unity. Unity does not mean that everyone in the nation votes for the same person. Unity means that everyone in the country sets aside personal bias and votes based on who they feel will lead the country to new heights. If we all follow the words of John F. Kennedy and, “”ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, we have achieved unity.

For a country characterized by diversity, achieving unity will be no small feat. However, if each and every one of us takes but a few minutes to consider the full impact of our vote on the country; if in the end, we do not vote based on personal bias nor hate-skewed beliefs, it is assured that we will start a positive chapter for our nation in the never ending book of history. In choosing for ourselves a leader who will inspire an attitude of compassion and love across our nation, we delve ever closer towards unequaled unity.


  • Anzaldúa, Gloria. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.” 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. By Samuel Cohen. Fourth Edition ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. 53-64. Print. 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology 4.
  • Asher, Barbara Lazear. “On Compassion.” 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. By Samuel Cohen. Fourth Edition ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. 35-37. Print. 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology 4.
  • Johnson, David, ed. “Presidential Quotes.” infoplease.com. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.