Diversity Banner Exhibit: Stark State

by Todd Walburn

There’s a popular meme that says “No matter how big and bad you think you are, when a two-year-old hands you a toy phone, you answer it.” That was the thought that was going through my mind as I walked the second floor hallway of the Stark State Student Center yesterday to view the Diversity Banner Exhibit presented by Embracing Our Differences Ohio. Every day, we are inundated with messages through advertising, subjected to a barrage of imagery in the form of video, billboard, posters and flyers until we are almost numb to the messages they are trying to share. There is something about the pure and honest imagery of children, however, as they simultaneously try to share and understand things, that speaks to us and seems urgent and significant. Far more timely than a toy phone call, these images are both playful and powerful, a different kind of “call” but one that is important for all of us to answer.

The mission of Embracing Our Differences is “to demonstrate the concepts that diversity enriches our lives, that respect for differences in our thoughts and beliefs elevates the human experience and that active rejection of prejudice and hatred enhances our own freedoms.” Working with students in schools throughout Wayne County, from elementary through high school, Embracing Our Differences Ohio encourages the artistic expression of what diversity means to young people, how they celebrate it, how it impacts their daily lives and the consequences of intolerance and bullying. The banners range from playful and positive to powerful and poignant, each from the unique perspective of a young person who undoubtedly is still trying to figure out how they fit into the wildly diverse universe in which they live. Guests can view the banners from the first floor of the Student Center building and are also invited to go to the second level to view more banners and read some of the stories that go along with them.

This traveling exhibit has found its way to Stark State through outreach from the college and will be on display through April 8th. Stark State is located at 6200 Frank Ave. NW in North Canton. The gallery is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.