According to a new U.S. Census Bureau report, one of every 10 counties in the United States has a population in which at least half the residents are from an ethnic minority. Only one Utah county — San Juan — follows suit. Still, researchers say diversity is a new watchword in Utah. The growth of minority populations in the state exceeds the national average. After San Juan, Salt Lake County is the most diverse county, with Weber, Tooele and Utah counties giving chase. In Salt Lake County, 23.5 percent of the population is from an ethnic minority now, compared to 18.6 percent in 2000.

That's quite a leap.

And, naysayers aside, it's good news.

As a recent Readers' Forum letter pointed out, the color and culture of Americans is of no importance, as long as the Constitution remains the nation's beacon.

In fact, it is probably time to send the word "diversity" packing. It has become so loaded with political posturing and the jargon of social engineering that it simply draws out emotional reactions now. Diversity is now the norm, not the trend.

Traditionally, some have felt "diversity" was a favor being offered by the mainstream to those on the periphery. But the truth is, a mixture of races, religions and political thought helps the dominant culture even more than it helps those hoping to assimilate. Those with deep roots and a long heritage can expand their understanding and wisdom by sharing time and space with people of other climes. And — if handled right — that expanded appreciation for different people will, in turn, breed patience, understanding and a willingness to work together for the good of all.

However begrudgingly those in the past embraced ethnic diversity, they did embrace it. And the result has been a richer American language (with hundreds of foreign words canonized), a richer culture (new holidays, music, food and dances) and a richer sense of life for all involved.

One flavor of ice cream may be nice. But it doesn't take Baskin-Robbins to know that when it comes to flavors, colors and tastes, the more the merrier.

That ability not only to blend but to accept others trying to fit in has always been an American virtue. Now, with the ethnic populations in Utah and other states springboarding to new levels, America will get even more chances to show the world what it means to be a part of the land of the free.