The inspirational thread for this project is to remind us all that in spite of our beautiful differences —may it be language, culture, traditions or skin color — we all have one thing in common which is our beautiful heart! Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria I witnessed beauty and violence at an early age which left deep imprints on my life’s journey. I came to learn that tensions amongst community members seemed to ease when we shared meals or played music or introduced other voices of the arts. Everyone involved realized then they had similar dreams and fears in spite of their unique cultural differences. Nelson Mandela said, “We are born innocent and learn to hate, if we learn how to hate we can learn how to love” and “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the triumph over it.”
Being an immigrant and naturalized citizen myself who was told not too long ago to go back to the country I came from, I am moved to address the fact that in our nation we are still confronted with the ugly rearing of rising hate, suppression and divisiveness. The idea of inclusion, a founding principle of our country, creates such overwhelming fear and anger towards others. Unfortunately the fallout of this destructive and negative energy is also felt by our youth, the elder, and marginalized members in our diverse communities. This led to my community outreach to encourage more people to embrace our diversity so we can find heart to overcome fear, hate, racism and divisiveness; only together are we able to face our challenges of the present and future.