Welcome everyone. In order for people to commit to working on diversity, every person needs to feel that they will be included and important. Whether the person is a Japanese-American woman, a white man, a Jew, a gay person, an African-American, a Arab-American, a fundamentalist Christian, or speaks with an accent, has a disability, is poor, or is wealthy--each person needs to feel welcomed in the effort to create a diverse community. And each person needs to know that their culture is important to others.
Guilt doesn't work in fostering diversity. Blaming people as a way of motivating them is not effective. Shaming people for being in a privileged position only causes people to feel bad; it doesn't empower them to take action to change. People are more likely to change when they are appreciated and liked, not condemned or guilt-tripped.
Treating everyone the same may be unintentionally oppressive. Although every person is unique, some of us have been mistreated or oppressed because we are a member of a particular group. If we ignore these present-day or historical differences, we may fail to understand the needs of those individuals. Often people are afraid that recognizing differences will divide people from each other. However, learning about cultural differences can actually bring people closer together, because it can reveal important parts of each others? lives. It can show us how much we have in common as human beings.
People can take on tough issues more readily when the issues are presented with a spirit of hope. We are bombarded daily with newspapers and TV reports of doom and gloom. People have a difficult time functioning at all when they feel there is no hope for change. When you present diversity issues you can say things like, "This is an excellent opportunity to build on the strengths that this organization has," or "There is no reason why we can't solve this problem together."
Building a team around us is the most effective way of creating institutional and community change around diversity issues. You will be more effective if you have a group of people around you that works together closely. People often try to go it alone, but we can lose sight of our goals and then become discouraged when operating solo. It is important to take the time to develop strong relationships with a core of people, and then work together as a group.
Recognize and work with the diversity already present in what appear to be homogenous groups. In working to combat racism and other forms of oppression many people become discouraged when they are unable to create a diverse group. Starting by recognizing differences in religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomics, parenting, and class backgrounds will help create a climate that welcomes differences; it will also lay the groundwork for becoming more inclusive.
Andre's purpose is to reconnect people to their Dignity and Honor in Being Human.