The Meaning of Diversity

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

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Diverse is a word that is used in many types of oratory and speech, but I seem to pick up a different meaning of it every time its spoken because of the context it's spoken in. One may use it as meaning something varied or different and another may use it in terms of race. The latter is the context in which I usually hear of the word, but it conflicts with what I thought was the definition of diverse. My definition of diverse was of anything that is varied or different. So to settle my internal dispute I looked up the word in three different dictionaries. Webster online defines diverse as "differing from one another" and "composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities." The Oxford English Dictionary defines diverse as "difference in character or quality; not of the same kind; not alike in nature or quality." Finally Cambridge defines it in simple terms, "varied or different."

Bingo, the Cambridge definition had confirmed that my definition was somewhat correct, but it still left me wondering about how the racial term of diverse came about.

The context and definition of diverse is obviously unclear and sometimes misused and misinterpreted. For instance, one day I sat with a few of my friends and argued that Penn State has a diverse student body. They refuted against me and stated that the student body wasn't diverse because there was lack of minorities. In another discussion, this time with my Grandmother, we were talking about politicians and their values. I had said that the diversity of politics may be the reason for the many variant values held by the respective politicians. Again, I was refuted with the same "lack of minority" statement. So with those two conversations along with other smaller observations, I concluded...