From K-12 to the corporate world, there are frequent calls for “unity in diversity” to help one another understand our ever changing world. What happens, however, when your own personal world is not necessarily diverse? As a race scholar and educator, Dr. Martinez-Cola often hears her students lament, “I didn’t grow up in a diverse neighborhood or attend a diverse school.” Through personal storytelling, Dr. Marisela Martinez-Cola shares how she learned to leave her own cultural “home” to get to know her magnificent neighborhood. Through intentional learning, she met numerous neighbors who represented the richness and splendor of this country. Her world was made the better for it. Through this talk, she asks participants, “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” More importantly, she hopes to encourage participants to accept her challenge. In order to combat a lack of diversity in your life, you must invite it in your heart and mind. Only then can we begin to understand the meaning of unity in diversity.
Dr. Marisela Martinez-Cola is a native of Battle Creek, Michigan, proud daughter of a Mexican mother and Tejano father, and the first in her family to pursue education beyond high school. Ever the overachiever, she’s earned her bachelor’s, law degree, and doctorate. She is someone who, not only loves to learn, but also loves to teach. As an Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dr. Martinez-Cola teaches and researches comparative critical race studies. Her forthcoming book, The Bricks Before Brown v. Board, is an example of her this focus. In it, she studies the Mexican American, Native American, and Chinese American school desegregation cases that came before the famed, historical Brown vs. Board of Education. Her two favorite phrases are, “I’ve never heard of that before” and “I’ve never thought of it like that before.”