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Diversity and Inclusion: Reflections from GWHT on our Journey Towards Anti-Racism

This summer our students and staff have had the opportunity to intentionally engage in discussions around current news and events. Last month, a movement called #ShutDownStem began online and our lab decided that in order for inclusivity and anti-racism to be in our lab’s DNA, participating in one day of learning would not be enough.

Some team members chose to engage in learning by participating in American University’s School of Education’s virtual conference. The 2020 theme was Uplifting Women and Girls of Color Through Antiracist Pedagogy, Practice, and Policies. Other students participated in a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge hosted by the American Bar Association.

Through each of these opportunities, it became clear that pursuing anti-racism is not a point of discussion reserved for lunch break sessions or after-work conversation, but rather needs to be included in mandatory group meetings.

We decided to begin having bi-weekly conversations about anti-racism, and this week want to share with you some reflections from our most recent discussion.

Prior to our meeting, everyone watched the TED Talk “INCLUSION over Diversity” by Kenyona Matthews, which took place at TEDxAkron.

We asked our staff and graduate students to reflect on this topic of how we can make racial inclusivity part of our lab’s DNA.

In the TED Talk, Kenyona Matthews talks about the difference between diversity and inclusion.

She says, “Diversity will always give us space in the room but it leaves no room for our thoughts or ways of life.”

On the other hand, “Inclusion will make sure we all have a seat and a voice.”

We asked our team to brainstorm their own definitions of inclusion:

“Inclusion should refer to all backgrounds such as gender, race, socioeconomic status, physical conditions, nationality, etc., because bias happens in all these areas.”

“Inclusivity doesn’t mean to simply have certain numbers of different groups of people (it can be race or gender or other background categories) in the same room, but instead means to give people seats and voices.

After an hour of conversation and dialogues, we left the meeting with a few questions that we plan to continue circling back to as we continue our journey to becoming an inclusive space.

As the new school year is right around the corner, we want to encourage our followers to engage in these 5 questions:

  1. What have we (as engineers or educators) done in the past to perpetuate the idea of diversity instead of inclusivity, and how can we move forward from that?

  2. What are we currently doing, if anything, to invest time, energy, and effort in being inclusive?

  3. What can we do to stop moments where people’s “place in the room” is questioned?

  4. How can we listen to the stories of people of color without placing the burden of education on people of color?

  5. How do we hold ourselves accountable in making inclusion part of our office DNA?

At GWHT, we are committing to continue this conversation through bi-weekly meetings, and we encourage our followers to engage with the questions above. Leave us a comment and tell us how you are working towards creating inclusive spaces!


Resources for making STEM Anti-Racist : Resources Home - #ShutDownAcademia #ShutDownSTEM Resources for Healing from Anti-Black Racism: Healing and Self-Care for Black People - #ShutDownAcademia #ShutDownSTEM



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