United Talent Agency
Elise Bellin, Librarian of the Islamic Resource Center, wrote this book review as part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.
Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us vs. Them
Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us vs. Them by Shakil Choudhury
Diversity and racism are hot-button issues in today’s society. It is hard to turn on the news without running into some injustice or protest, some push for a more inclusive change. These are issues we are working to address, but the question remains: How do we do it? How do we ensure a more diverse representation and a more complete equality for everyone we encounter? It often seems that it is an insurmountable problem. With so much bad in the world – wars, famines, racist systems, the polarization and weaponization of political and religious ideologies, and so much more – it can be difficult to see the good – love, faith, charity, people working to improve systems to heal and bring together rather than separate or blame, spontaneous outpouring of support to those in need, and so much more. We have it in ourselves, if not always as our first instinct, to change and do unspeakable acts of good.
I admit that I am an unshakable optimist. I have to believe in humanity’s ability to come together for the greater good and that we can make a difference. I also think that, to some extent, the author of today’s book, Shakil Choudhury, is as well. He recognizes something I have been saying for years. We rely too heavily on an us versus them mentality that not only is not sustainable but is an ugly seed of self-destruction.
Deep Diversity isn’t a book that says we are equal in society, that bad things don’t happen, or that we have overcome the societal ills that have plagued humanity since the dawn of time. What good would come of lying to ourselves like that? It is a book that acknowledges our issues and seeks accessible strategies for achieving that authentic and lasting state of racial equality in particular that so many are working to achieve with the myriad of organizations, movements and protests that seem to spring up on a daily basis. More importantly, it says that overcoming these issues is possible. Utilizing cutting-edge research across diverse fields and compelling stories, Choudhury offers us a chance at creating intentional change in the form of specific skills and practices that will help to grow our emotional and “power” intelligence to better traverse this changing landscape.
Maybe it won’t perfectly change the landscape into the utopian paradise of pure equality, independence, peace and love that we all wish this world more resembled, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.
Founded in 2010, the Islamic Resource Center (IRC) is the first Islamic public lending library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.