Cool temperatures and rain didn’t keep approximately 50 individuals from attending the second annual Diversity Rally in Warsaw Saturday. But it did cancel the diversity walk from Central Park to the courthouse square and back.
Brittany Kusserow, Chris Blackshire-Evansky, Lachelle Tullis, John Bonitati, Devendra Gorhe and members of the Warsaw Community High School Gay Straight Alliance group were guest speakers. Music was provided by Marena Moonflower and Hans and Brittany Kusserow.
The topics ranged from religious diversity to what a local business is doing to level the playing field for all groups, to labels and cultural celebrations. Tracy Hamilton, adviser for the the Warsaw GSA group, provided information about bullying what an individual being bullied could do and what those who see the act can do.
What was the rally really about? Gennie Brissette-Tipton, one of the event organizers, summed it up at the beginning of the event: Diversity is not only about race, culture, religion and sexual orientation, but also social economic status, disability, ability, appearance and even personal preferences on likes and dislikes. “It’s awesome, it’s what makes the world go around.”
Bonitati spoke of diversity in a business workplace. An employee of DePuy, Bonitati spoke about about the employee resource group within the company. “We have a number of them. The purpose is to change the culture within, (and) celebrate diversity to make the company attractive on a number of fronts,” he stated. He named the various groups who are used internally to educate and change the culture.
“Do I step in? Do I stop the bullying?” asked Tracy Hamilton, who talked about cyber bullying and face-to-face bullying. She provided possible resolutions to cyber bullying: don’t reply, save everything and report it. She also presented a number of ways to deal with face-to-face bullying.
Kusserow spoke of religious diversity and her experience with the world’s major and minor religions. She also spoke of a community garden she helped create. The garden acted as a multi-faith food pantry as well as a natural space for talking, learning and worshiping.
Blacksire-Evansky told her story of growing up, finding herself interested in those of the same sex and her experiences. “I am no different than everyone else,” she stated, adding she is made of the same matter, breathes the same way and loves like everyone else on the planet.
Lachelle Tullis addressed labels given to people based only on what is seen on the outside — without consideration of what the person is truly like. She provided initial impressions people have of her – a female, black, and in her words, “cuddly.” But did people really know her? She provided descriptions of herself from friends and how they would tell someone to find her in a crowd. The descriptions were anything but labels.
Gorhe was the final speaker, explaining one of the important celebrations in India: The Festival of Diwali. He explained how four of the five day celebration celebrates something different. He noted the emphasis of each day is celebration and to drive away the ignorance of darkness. Locally those who have relocated in Warsaw from India celebrate The Festival of Dewali in one evening. He encouraged any one interested in the celebration to speak with him.
The hope is to have the rally continue as a tradition.