Communicating diversity correctly
by T. Leon Williams
1) Manage emotions and know your biases and misconceptions
One of the first steps in dealing with diversity issues is to understand how your emotions, biases and misconceptions interplay. This is an important first step because as emotions rise around the issue, the intervener/moderator/facilitator/student leader/campus community must have a pulse on their own emotions and biases to support all parties involved.
2) Use transferrable leadership skills from other areas
Many students are equipped with great leadership skills that they use in other departments and areas, such as listening, communication, presentation, mediation, customer service, etc…but they fail to utilize these skills to work through difficult dialogues related to diversity primarily because of the nature of diversity issues (discourse, intensity, sensitivity). We have a tendency to not draw from these skill sets because of our emotional or personal stance on the issue.
3) Become an effective communicator without words
Sometimes support around diversity issues require non-verbal peer support, such as listening, support, and comfort via walks and exercise. Many times victims of bias and hate crimes just need someone present without judgment.
4) Accept that every issue does not have a resolution, but all issues require a commitment.
Diversity issues call for immediate response at all levels: administration, faculty, staff, and most importantly peer support. The victim or affinity group under attack should not carry the weight alone of trying to navigate bias report protocol, institutional support, etc, regardless of the outcome. The campus must be committed and the outcome is independent. Most victims feel alone, unsupported and when they reflect on the situation, institutional support would have made a huge difference on the road to discovery and recovery.
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