Thanks to Evanston Cradle to Career, some staff members attended a two-day seminar on moving beyond diversity. What does that mean?
It means that if we are going to create a society that treats everyone equally, we can’t only consider diversity. We must reconsider the ways we are taught to think about abilities, race, class, and gender. Together, our community needs to think of the diversity of experiences people have – not just diversity of skin color.
Continue reading to find out what each staff member discovered at Beyond Diversity.
As our facilitator said, “public learning is hard.” My best learning happened when I was most uncomfortable.
Why did I show up? I wanted an action plan. I wanted something I could do every day to be more aware and continue to learn from others’ perspectives. It’s great that our small group of colleagues at CIF has continued the conversation. I look forward to continued work together in hopes that we can keep this important conversation and resulting ideas and actions in the forefront of the work we do.
Niki Moe Horrell
I grew up in a mainly white community where there were distinct prejudices against people of color and this was against the threads of who I was, yet, this was where I lived. During the seminar, my mind was opened to some harsh realities:
I would not know how it feels to be racially profiled and followed by the police. I would not know how it feels to be watched in a department store. I would not know that the lighter the skin tone, the more privileged the person is.
People of color mentioned each of these experiences at the seminar. We all need to put ourselves in others’ shoes and create a change, for people of every color matter and every color creates the human race.
Diversity and inclusion are becoming an important topic nowadays. However, there are always big challenges that societies face and these challenges, sometimes, become stronger than the willingness of good people. We can only achieve an inclusive goal when a society finds support from local governments. They must create policies specifically for the protection of the rights of minority groups.
In championing inclusion for people with disabilities, we can be allies with others who face discrimination because the community of people with disabilities is as diverse as the population of people without.
The work of becoming racially conscious is deeply personal, often uncomfortable, and on-going.
The opportunity to participate in the Beyond Diversity training for two days was a professional gift. The facilitator was willing to take risks and allow the people participating in the training to drive the conversation on race. When these personal conversations took place, I learned the most about ideas like colorism and having courageous dialogues.
Although Evanston is a diverse community, it isn’t integrated. I spent time reflecting on my role in white dominance and the privileges that I am afforded. Finally, I reflected upon what conversations to take back to the Center for Independent Futures community on race.
The most important aspect of being aware of race is possessing an ability to talk about difficult issues. The Beyond Diversity seminar provided us with tools for productive and valuable conversations about race, white privilege, and whiteness.
I am excited to work at an organization that encourages its staff to take racial differences and community building seriously. While there is so much work to be done in the world at-large, the best thing we can do is start at home. We will continue to have these difficult conversations among staff and community partners, and I hope that we can spread the tools we learned.