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Diversity is the Mirror that Reflects back - Do you like what you see?

When the Evil Queen in Snow White stood in front of the mirror she posed the question, Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Fairest of them all? The Queen was waiting on the affirmation that she indeed was the fairest in the land.

Diversity holds a mirror up to you and demands that you look at what is reflected. It requires that you look at yourself-no more hiding, diversity reality is in plain sight.

It is difficult to face certain truths. Diversity is personal. To confront your authentic feelings about individuals and groups different from your normal and your known takes internal work. It often means revisiting:

  • your past

  • your family of origins belief system

  • your value system

  • your peers

  • your community

  • who & what were your influences during your formative years

Looking in the mirror is a forced wake-up call. This is no distorted mirror in a funhouse. What do you see? Is your diversity mirror cracked? Is it broken into pieces? Is it in need of repair?

Self-reflection, digging deep into the core of our innermost thoughts is challenging. Spending self-time and pondering Why do you think a certain way? Why do you respond to a specific group of people the way you do? Why have you categorized people into certain groups without knowing them? are questions that demand you look into your internal mirror. What is on the inside will reflect outwards. Your beliefs can never be fully hidden. We have seen evidence of this over the past decade and as recently as a few weeks ago, when famous personalities lose lucrative contracts, television shows and major movie deals are canceled, based on racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic comments, actions, and tweets. For example, Chris Harrison of Bachelor & Bachelorette fame, Roseanne Barr, Paula Deen, Mel Gibson, and recently Gina Carano formerly of The Mandalorian all faced falls from grace over racialized commentary. When thinking about diverse populations, do you experience a level of discomfort? guilt? uncertainty? fear? prejudice? or simply justify what happened in the past by stating it is not my fault, I wasn't even born, or is it just plain easier not to deal with them fill in the blank____________ at all! I understand majority communities may be uncomfortable with these topics. If you're in the majority recognize occasions will occur when you will need to be comfortable with discomfort. Honest conversations require delving into a past fraught with capturing free people and enslaving them for centuries, internment camps, the holocaust, Jim Crow, lynchings, the struggles for equal rights for women, and LGBTQ rights, the list goes on. A large majority of underrepresented populations are mired in Racial Battle Fatigue-emotionally drained dry from the continuous demands of explaining, teaching, informing, educating, excusing questionable behaviors, incurring microaggressions, and the unyielding demands of representing their culture to others every single day. It is an all-consuming body and mind exhaustion when you simply can't be! Looking in the mirror demands that we are honest with ourselves. What is your mirror reflecting? If you don't like what you see or what you know to be true, it is time to change.



 

As March enters with its lion and lamb dichotomy, Let’s pause to celebrate Women’s History Month. In many African American communities, the Church is the foundation. It is the hallowed venue that requires impeccable manners, quiet and respectful behavior, and of course, decking out in your finest Sunday best.


The church is also the place where I encountered so many women I looked up to and wanted to imitate.


The church ladies in those exaggerated hats, which framed beautiful skin in every shade of brown imaginable. The jewelry provided a soft jingle musical accompaniment when bangle bracelets moved on decorated wrist.


These classy women read the weekly announcements with eloquence, directed the choir with movement and soul, taught Sunday school, and served in multiple organizations to support their places of worship.


The church was also home to highly accomplished Black Greek-letter Sorority Women, wearing unfamiliar (Greek) letters in vibrant colors on necklaces, pins, and in treasured secret places near their hearts. These women were leaders and keepers of the community standards, high expectations, and role-models for what was possible. Women who walked with a certain confidence and pride of existence.


In their presence, little brown girls with straight-pressed hair, starched dresses in the fashion of the day, and patent leather shoes so shiny you could see your face (well almost) stood straighter, enunciated perfectly when questioned and responded with yes and no M’am. Slang was not allowed in front of these illustrious women.


The church ladies and sorority women helped to shape me in those initial formative years, however, so many women have continued pouring wisdom and sage advice into me, inspiring, encouraging, motivating, and supporting me and so many others.


Special recognition for outstanding Spokane Womxn Leaders-Sandy Williams, Kiantha Duncan, Councilor Betsy Wilkerson, Natasha Hill, Freda Gandy, Anna Franklin, Lunell Haught, & Regina Malveaux thank you!

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