Monday, 06 March 2017 18:05

From the Editor

A group of community members of different ages and backgrounds come together to participate in meaningful conversation about diversity hosted by West View Media, and facilitated by Glendale residents Trinh Mai and Dane Hess in November 2016.  Photo by Charlotte Fife-Jepperson||| A group of community members of different ages and backgrounds come together to participate in meaningful conversation about diversity hosted by West View Media, and facilitated by Glendale residents Trinh Mai and Dane Hess in November 2016. Photo by Charlotte Fife-Jepperson||| |||

Salt Lake City’s west side is home to a great variety of ethnicities and cultures; we are an international community made up of people from all over the world, from different religious, political, and socio-economic backgrounds. We are people of different ages, gender and sexual orientation. Diversity is touted as one of our community’s greatest assets.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 65.9 percent of Salt Lake City's west side population in the 84104 and 84116 zip codes consists of minority groups. This means that well over half of west side residents are people of color – something demographers refer to as a “minority-majority” – compared to a 19.6 percent minority population in the state as a whole.

The census tells us that the majority of west side residents are Hispanic/Latino, at 49.8 percent, 34.1 percent are White, and the next two largest racial groups are Pacific Islander, at 5.1 percent, and Black at 3.9 percent.

Our racial and ethnic diversity is only expected to increase. “Given that the west side has historically been a gathering place for New Americans and ethnic enclaves, we expect this synergy and dynamic to continue into the future,” said Pamela Perlich, Director of Demographic Research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

The West View is a forum where some of the most diverse voices in Utah can be heard. In this special issue, funded in part by Utah Humanities, contributors wrote about topics that explore our diversity and who we are as a community. There are stories about growing up surrounded by diversity, enduring hurtful interpersonal interactions (micro-aggressions), recognizing our privilege, why and how people immigrate to this country, how cooking traditional food helps retain culture, and how one family was torn apart by deportation.

Over the years, through monthly community newsroom meetings and numerous interviews, people of all walks of life have challenged my ideas of power structures and decision-making – bright high school and college students, middle-aged professionals and retirees with strong opinions about such issues as race-relations, social inequality, the environment and affordable housing.

With these diverse viewpoints, I gain a wider perspective of the world and learn to recognize my own biases, prejudice and privilege. It causes me to become more thoughtful about the language I use and content that we publish. It makes The West View a more inclusive space and platform.

During the winter, West View Media hosted a series of community conversations about diversity. In the first session, community members came together, shared meals, and listened to one another speak candidly about personal struggles associated with being different or marginalized. People told stories of discrimination based on age, ability, education, race/ethnicity, language, gender and religion.

In the second session, we discussed sources of pride associated with different social identities. We celebrated our mothers, our resilience in overcoming various struggles, our journeys in reclaiming our cultural heritage.

In the final session, we discussed some of the stories with the authors and identified ways to support one another and increase cross-cultural understanding and inclusivity.

The following ideas were highlighted: getting to know people who are different from us, visiting a mosque, recognizing and using our privilege for good, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, being willing to engage in difficult exchanges in order to learn and to build relationships, holding more events to engage in meaningful dialogue about diversity and social justice in our community.

This issue reflects the spirit of those exchanges.