Growing up and living in a predominantly white community comes with its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to celebrating and understanding the significance of Juneteenth. As I have reflected upon this historical day that symbolizes freedom and emancipation, I better realize it is essential I continually consider the steps I can take to recognize and foster diversity and inclusivity.
My pondering on Juneteenth has been inspired by a thought-provoking presentation by Cree Taylor, Special Assistant to the Dean for DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) at Utah State University. She spoke at the June leadership luncheon for the Cache Chamber of Commerce in Logan, Utah.
EMBRACING DIVERSITY AS A STRENGTH
Cree Taylor shared two thought-provoking questions I pose for our consideration.
“Do we really believe diversity is a strength?”
In a world that thrives on differences, it is imperative to recognize the richness and potential that diversity brings. Our communities, workplaces, and personal lives are all enhanced when we embrace the variety of experiences, perspectives, and cultures that exist around us. Here are a few suggestions I have been pondering.
- Education & Awareness – Education is the cornerstone of understanding and appreciating diversity. Take the initiative to educate yourself about the history and significance of Juneteenth. By learning about the struggles and triumphs of African Americans, we develop empathy and expand our worldview. Share this knowledge with others, engage in discussions, and challenge misconceptions.
- Open Dialogue – Creating an environment conducive to open dialogue is crucial. Encourage conversations about race, culture, and identity. Engage in respectful and meaningful exchanges, even when discomfort arises. By fostering a safe space for discussions, we empower ourselves and others to learn from diverse perspectives, ultimately dismantling barriers.
TAKING ACTION IN OUR OWN SPACES
This second question from Cree Taylor prompts reflection on the steps we can take to promote diversity and inclusivity within our immediate spheres of influence.
“What are we doing in our own spaces?”
Three years ago, after our country erupted with racial tension after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement, I wanted to better understand what a black person felt about what was going on. I also wanted to understand what a black person felt living in a predominantly white community.
Uncomfortable conversations, no matter the subject, are difficult to hear even if you are not an active part of the conversation. Such was the conversation I had with my friend Nate Derring.
“AN UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATION WITH A BLACK MAN”
I shared in Part 1 of that conversation my journey with those of a different race, from childhood through high school, the army and into adulthood. It was a journey of both struggles and successes. I also introduce you to Nate and share a bit of his perspective as a black man, a father, and a business owner in a predominantly white community.
Part 2 is the actual conversation I had with Nate, shared via the Red Edge Live program, where Nate shares his experiences in person. And I did my best to listen and to understand. I hope you will take the 60 minutes to listen as well. I promise it will be worth your time.
A LONG JOURNEY TOWARDS FREEDOM
While systemic change requires a collective effort, there are simple yet impactful actions we can take individually. Remembering Juneteenth when it comes around next year can be one of those simple actions.
Now recognized as a Federal Holiday, Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the long journey toward freedom and the ongoing fight for equality. For those of us who live in predominantly white communities, let us work better together to recognize the power of diversity and actively work towards creating inclusive spaces.
By believing in the strength that diversity brings and taking action within our direct control and influence, we can collectively contribute to a more equitable and harmonious society by embracing diversity, fostering inclusivity, and standing united against injustice.
Thanks for letting me share.
Have a beautiful Monday! I love you, friends!
p.s. Take 13 minutes today to intentionally ponder how you can embrace diversity as a strength in your life.
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