Unification of diverse communities lead to stronger society

Every society consists of different communities, with people coming from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. The way these communities live together contributes to building a society’s strength. The more closely these communities bond, the stronger society becomes.

While many people look at cultural diversity as a setback for a country or a state, it is actually the diversity that establishes it as a strong entity on the global stage. Accepting diversity can help a state, as well as a country, lay the foundations of a stable future. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the great American civil rights activist, stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

A perfect example here is the most populous states in the United States, New York. It is a land of diversity. From Europeans and Asians to Whites and People of Color, this state's population is filled with cultural diversity. From being the first major city in the country, New York today has become a home to people from different cultural backgrounds. There are blocks filled with a diverse population. Considering this situation of the state, it is hard to believe that there is hate among the different cultural and racial groups.

Eager to address this problem is Mark Meyer Appel, a social activist, and advocate for children who is popularly referred to as the ‘Bridge Builder.’ Mark opened his eyes in Brooklyn, a city in New York. He was born to Joseph and Fanny, who were Holocaust survivors. Mark’s father lost his entire family, including his parents, first wife, and four children, at the hands of the Nazis. This is when he moved to the United States and started a new family and life with his second wife, Fanny Beinhorn.

Knowing how cultural and racial discrimination scarred his father for life, young Mark felt there was a need to address this problem. From schools to workplaces, he could see people being judged based on their cultures and ethnicity. With a fear that their child might fall prey to racial discrimination, his parents enrolled him in a private Jewish school, Chasan Sofer Institute.

Since the beginning, Mark has put in efforts to promote intercultural understanding, being an advocate of bringing diverse communities together to build a strong society. In 2014 Mark, with the assistance of Dorinda Angelucci, co-founded The Bridge Multicultural and Advocacy Project (MCP). Mark's goal was to bring people from different cultural groups together and work as a united team. The center is located on Flatbush Avenue and holds educational forums, art exhibits, and many multicultural events to unite and work towards eliminating hate from the hearts of New Yorkers from different communities.

Being a tireless champion, Mark began fighting to change the lenient laws pertaining to child abuse, discrimination, and division between the diverse communities. As president of the Voice of Justice, he stepped into the scene when things were getting difficult. 2014 was a tough year for New York. Riots and violent incidents, known as ‘knockouts,’ due to cultural diversity were spreading all across the state. This was when Mark decided it was time to take action. He worked hard to gather $300,000 in private funds and turned his 9,000 square-foot former school building into what the New Yorkers know now as The Bridge MCP. "To stop the hate and invest in new ways for our very diverse population to work together to better understand each other and protect our children and families” was Mark’s mission from the start. Mark invited many of New York’s leaders from diverse communities. It was his attempt to shed light on the importance of ending differences between diverse communities of this state.

Mark’s efforts do not stop here. Besides being the focal point of advocacy efforts around issues affecting Brooklyn, his center has also launched ‘Bridge TV.’ As media plays a critical role in bringing sensitive issues to light, Mark has decided to leverage it for the betterment of society. Bridge TV, as per Mark, will aid the efforts of his project through mixed media programming. The shows on this television network will focus on New York's emerging communities, politics, nonprofit organizations, and efforts to support local commercial businesses across the city. Given the popularity of streaming services today, Mark believes that Bridge TV will help spread his message to millions of viewers a day.  The Bridge programming will be available on the Queue Vision streaming platform hosted on ROKU and Amazon Fire TV.

In this Spring of 2021, Mark Meyer Appel, founder of The Bridge MCP, will officially launch BRIDGE TV, thereby expanding the mission of instilling tolerance and unity among the diverse ethnic and religious groups in New York. With his efforts under the Bridge Multicultural and Advocacy Project, including the Bridge center and streaming service, Mark hopes to further advocate for unity among the different races, cultures, religions because he is a firm believer in the wise words, “the greater the diversity, the greater the perfection.”

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.