What to say when people attack the diversity of your community

29 Sep

I’ve been having conversations with communities about not just responding when an attack on identity and diversity happens in your community, but helping others to be prepared for what to say when… something unsafe happens.
It’s OK to be caught off guard. But to be unprepared–especially now, as hate speech, hate action and hate movements are on the rise–is, I would say, irresponsible.

Maybe you don’t know what to say. Maybe others don’t either. But together, you can brainstorm, practice (yes, actually, role play it out–because what you think or hope you’d say in a situation may be different than what comes out of your mouth looking into someone else’s eyes) and increase your collective preparedness for words and actions that we can reasonably expect to challenge the vital identity and diversity of our communities. And because identity and diversity are vital, we owe it to ourselves and each other to have some tools in our toolkits to respond, and not to let bigotry have the last word.

Here’s a quick video that I recommend you take 5:30mins to watch. This is Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria of the US Air Force when racial slurs were anonymously written on the dorm room white boards of black cadets. Toward the end of his address, Silveria tells the cadets and his leadership team what he has to say to racism and other -isms/-phobias, and what they can say. He tells the cadets to record him so that they can use him to deliver the message to anyone who hasn’t gotten the memo.

I encourage us all to use this example as a model of how to stand up for love and excellence in diversity. We need to convene and empower leadership and every member of our communities with everyday skills for living our values.

One Response to “What to say when people attack the diversity of your community”

  1. teamtameblog September 29, 2017 at 11:44 am #

    AWESOME video.

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