Reconstructions of Diversity

Last Wednesday I was able to visit Reconstruction Era National Historical Park with my wonderful coworker, Matt. Located in Beaufort, South Carolina, the park deals with different facets of the integration of the previously enslaved peoples into society during the Reconstruction Era. The park is spread out over a few different sites that we were fortunate enough to see. The spaces were extremely powerful. We visited sites where Martin Luther King Jr. planned the March on Washington, we saw the burial ground of Robert Smalls, and we looked upon buildings that had fingerprints of the enslaved embedded into their bricks. 

While we were on the trip I thought a lot about my place as a Latina woman in this world, specifically in South Carolina at the moment. I grapple with what story to tell about my people as the current climate proves that tensions are high when topics of diversity or inclusion are mentioned. This is especially pressing in my planning of Latino Conservation Week events. However, if there’s one thing I’ve come to grips with in my time here at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park it is that as a collective society, we are drastically different although we are all a part of the same family. And that is okay. In fact it is widely encouraged, because it is what makes us beautiful. 

Rather than focus on our differences, we tend to focus on our similarities sometimes because we are afraid of the things we don’t understand about one another. But when we focus solely on our similarities, we neglect the diversity that makes us unique. My time here has taught me that everyone has a story worth listening to. Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes opens doors unknown to us on the basis of compassion and empathy. Visiting Reconstruction Era National Historical Park put a new spin on diversity for me because it showed me that even those who had suffered so deeply and were discriminated against were able to rise and exude power, love, and confidence. It was an amazing site to experience, another of South Carolina’s treasures.

¡Hasta la próxima!

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