Valuing Diversity Traits

Aaliyah Archibald, USA National Miss Illinois 2023

My name is Aaliyah Archibald and I am the current USA National Miss Illinois. I have been involved in pageantry since I was 9 years old. Along the way, I have learned many life lessons, but the lesson I value the most is loving myself. I am a biracial woman with naturally curly hair, and growing up I did not know exactly how to embrace my beautiful features. I straightened my hair to hide a part of me. Eventually, I realized I lost who I was and felt nothing like myself. Before the world went on lockdown for the pandemic in 2020 I cut off all my hair and went back to my natural hair. While it took some time to get used to my hair, I started the journey of loving myself again. Once I realized the beauty in myself and my diversity traits I decided to share my story, and bring awareness to others about how rewarding it is to love the parts of yourself that make you different. I then created my Diversity Is Now campaign to put my dreams into action. Now I have reached over a quarter of a million people with my campaign through my Diversity newsletters, creating DEI positions, and even having a feature in my sorority’s national magazine. My mission is just getting started, but I am blessed by the impact I have already made by the grace of God. 

What is a diversity trait? 

Many think that having diversity means just different races or religions, but it is so much more. Diversity is anything that makes people different. Yes, this can include race and religion, but it also includes culture, disabilities (both visible and invisible), hobbies, social economic status, and the list goes on. I always ask people what is something they have or do that they have had little to no one else have around them. With some, it is hard because people think they are just average and have nothing to bring to the table. Everyone does! God instilled a mission and plan for all of his children, some just need help seeing it. I believe the purpose God has put me on this earth is for me to help people find and embrace what special trait he put in them. 

How to make someone comfortable about their diverse trait:

It takes time to recognize what makes you diverse, and it can change from day to day. Remember it is never a race or competition to be “more diverse” than someone everyone has their own plan. The best we can do as people is to support and be a person to lean on when they are discovering themselves. If I grew up with more representation and examples of people who looked like me I would have felt more comfortable with myself. I always encourage people who are ready to share what makes them different to do it. This way they could inspire and find people in their community and not feel alone. Sometimes being a role model could just mean speaking the truth about who you are.

Thank you Aaliyah for sharing some of your story, and all about diversity traits. I feel like sometimes people do get caught up in labels and generalizations which can seriously affect a person’s self-worth. Rather it is better to look at diverse traits as valuable aspects of a person which do not define them overall. I so love following all the work you do!