Celebrating Diversity & Inspiring Unity
Some of history’s darkest chapters are the direct result of discrimination against other races or religions with consequences and echoes that endure to the present day where a troubling growth in nativism, racism and intolerance over the past few years has been noted by a number of recent studies:
- A February 2019 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center indicates that the number of hate groups operating in the United States rose to an all-time high of 1,020 in 2018, the fourth-straight year of hate group growth, representing a 30 percent increase following three consecutive years of decline near the end of the Obama administration.
- According to data released in March 2019 by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the number of white supremacist community propaganda efforts skyrocketed to 868 in 2018, up from 129 incidents in 2017. Alt right groups were responsible for the majority of these efforts. (Excludes college campuses where such efforts also increased.)
- In its annual report on extremist-related killings in the U.S., the ADL’s Center on Extremism reported that at least 50 people were killed by extremists in 2018, a 35 percent increase from the 37 extremist-related murders in 2017, making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.
- According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hate crimes in the U.S. increased 17 percent from 2016 to 2017, 3 in 5 targeting race or ethnicity, the remainder largely targeting religion.
- Hate crimes are a growing global phenomenon as well. CBS has reported that far-right attacks in Europe jumped 43 percent between 2016 and 2017.
The U.S. is a nation shaped by the immigrants who found their way to its shores from around the world, a nation which has owes so much of its great strength and prestige in the world to its wealth of diversity. So it is especially troubling how current trends are directly at odds with the country’s defining legacy of diversity, a nation of individuals from different ethnicities and culture, united in their quest for a better life, a nation which strives to provide every individual an opportunity to pursue a better life for themselves, their family and future generations. Our history of immigration and diversity has by no means been perfect and has been marred by discrimination and intolerance throughout the years. Step by step, however, there has been progress, with growing awareness and embracement of a multicultural society that, when united, forms the bedrock of modern American society. We are concerned that the divisive trends today represent a grave threat to that progress.
Our Goal & Our Approach
Our goal is simple: To inspire an emotional response among all of us, one that celebrates diversity and tolerance that helps us see one another as fellow human beings with whom we share the same goals of providing a better world for our families and our descendants.
Recognizing the importance of a positive, inspirational message amid harshening rhetoric and political polarization, the Diversity is Beauty project was created as an art-based initiative to convey a strong inspirational and positive message of diversity. In recent times, such positive messages have all too often been overwhelmed by the growing din of a negative and polarized pubic discourse.
The project, using the visual arts, celebrates the exquisite beauty of our diverse society and seeks to emphasize the humanity of each of us, both as individuals and as a member of a diverse and unified family. It is our sincere hope that such positive examples that touch the heart can help us rise above the widespread fear and political rhetoric and celebrate the wonder and beauty of diversity.
Our logo — through its myriad of branches in many directions overlaid by a brilliant color pallet is a celebration of the stunning diversity in this world. Yet all of the branches radiate from a common point at the center, representing the fact that we all share common ancestry and we are far more alike than we are different. As a whole, the illustration conveys the breathtaking beauty and harmony that is humanity in all its colors, shapes and forms. (Basic design by Cienpiesnf, Montevideo, Uruguay, adapted for the Diversity is Beauty project)
The first phase of the project uses the medium of photography and nine models, both amateur and professional, representing a broad range of ethnic backgrounds. Like many Americans, several are of mixed ethnicity. Unlike most photography projects, the models depicted are not just silent subjects, but were also asked to share a few words about themselves, their ethnicity and their thoughts and perspectives on diversity.
The project´s initial focus on women recognizes the growing leadership and power of women on diversity and many other critical issues facing civil society today, which we honor in this effort. The artist’s use of the art nude genre is meant to reveal the subjects’ breathtaking and diverse palette of colors and the profound beauty of those colors in combination, while, at the same time, showing that underneath, we’re truly all the same, part of the same human family. The art nude genre is also meant to convey a sense of vulnerability and the fact that it is more than offset by confidence and empowerment. Finally, the imagery is meant to illustrate strength in unity, especially evident in the project´s signature image, “The Circle of Diversity.”
Phase II and Beyond: Phase II of the project, which will see the production of more artwork and broaden distribution and community engagement. Still at its inception, the project by no means is inclusive of the remarkable wealth of ethnicities that call this country home, so future phases of the project will also embrace more forms of diversity. As the project evolves we hope to engage more artists, students and organizations involved in diversity issues. We also plan to host photography and other artistic competitions and special events to broaden our inspirational message about diversity.