“Inclusion, Unity, and Loving Better” – Differences Are Important Parts of Identity

Sister Tracy Y. Browning, 2nd Counselor in the Primary General Presidency

Latter-day Saint Women Podcast

“When I think about what we can offer our children, I know that there is an earnestness that we have. When we talk about differences, we often talk about being colorblind and this is an idea whose intent is really good. I know that there is such good intent to want to see everyone as the same. But what I would say is that we can elevate our differences that are important parts of the identity of people and cultures around the world. For instance, I am a Black woman who is part of the African diaspora, and those things are part of my identity and I think that those parts of my identity are complementary to others who are not of my culture. There are things that I have learned as a result of the experiences of being a Black woman in the African diaspora that are beneficial that can be offered. Referring back to Sister Eubank’s message on three ways that we can build unity, she talks about this idea of the swing. She’s talking about how in rowing her boat, swing is that movement that we have when we’re all rowing in the same direction. My strength in one area or somebody else’s strength in another area helps us propel that boat in the right direction and eventually will get that swing. It is a really great analogy and one that I so appreciated because I think that we can remember that differences do not need to be ignored or pretended. They can be appreciated. 

What I think as we talk to our children and as they’re in places where they have opportunity to recognize that they’re in their friend groups, or peer groups in their schools, and in their churches, that there are some others that they’re interacting with that live in ways are not exactly the same as the ways that they’re living in their home we can say that that’s an OK thing. We recognize that another family who does something different is OK. When we talk about the things we have in common, I think that the intent of teaching our children not to see differences is about really focusing on commonalities. I know the intent is really not to pretend that there are no differences. It’s to focus on the commonalities. What I’m saying is the things that we have in common are higher principles. Just remember that, even though another family is doing something differently than you are, it doesn’t mean that they’re not reaching for the exact same thing as you. They’re still reaching for having education. They’re still reaching for happiness. They’re still reaching for success. They’re still reaching for lots of the same goals that you are. They’re just tactically going about it differently than you are, and that’s OK. That’s not about differences. It means that we’re not really that different after all. If we’re reaching for the same things but just going about them in different ways, we can teach our children that because they can start to be curious about other people. For me, curiosity is the seed of connection. When we start to be curious about each other, we desire to understand each other more deeply.

… I love seeing images of the earth from space because it’s beautiful, and it’s cohesive, and it’s harmonious. Everything seems to be in its right spot and the colors reflect something that’s really pleasing to my eye. I think that when we pull back and we look at all of the differences that we have in the human family it’s also harmonious, and it’s pleasing to the eye, and I know that it pleases God. We’re existing in this together and He wants us to see that beauty. That beauty. The beauty is not because it’s all one shade. It’s because all of these colors come together, and the colors represent diversity in parts of the world, and diversity in the way that we live, and diversity in the way that we speak, and our interests. It comes together and it is, it creates harmony. It doesn’t sound discordant. Trust me. It’s harmonious to God and we have to tune our ears to start to hear the harmony.”