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Embracing DEI: A Path Forward Together

By Erica S., Director of DEI 

Happy New Year, PPCWNY volunteers! As we embark on a new year filled with opportunities for positive change, it's essential for us to continue fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment within our organization. Today, let's delve into the importance of recognizing and addressing microaggressions in our daily interactions.

Microaggressions are subtle, often unintentional, verbal or non-verbal expressions that convey bias or derogatory attitudes towards individuals based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other marginalized characteristics. These seemingly small incidents can have a significant impact on the well-being and sense of belonging of those affected.
Here are a few examples of microaggressions:

  • Colorblindness: Saying "I don't see color" may unintentionally dismiss the unique experiences and challenges faced by individuals from different racial or ethnic backgrounds. It overlooks the importance of acknowledging and respecting diversity. Next, the concept of "colorblindness" can perpetuate the myth that ignoring differences is the solution to racism or discrimination. In reality, recognizing and celebrating diversity is essential for fostering understanding and inclusivity. Lastly, by claiming not to see color, one might unintentionally avoid addressing or acknowledging the systemic issues and inequalities that certain racial or ethnic groups may face. A more inclusive approach involves recognizing and appreciating diversity, understanding the impact of systemic issues, and actively working towards creating a fair and inclusive environment for everyone. Statements like "I value and appreciate diversity" or "I treat everyone with respect, regardless of their background" convey a positive commitment without dismissing the significance of individual identities.
  • Gender Assumptions: Making assumptions about someone's gender identity can be alienating. Avoiding gender-specific language when it's unnecessary contributes to a more inclusive atmosphere. Instead, use gender-neutral language. Here's an example: Instead of saying "Hey guys," which might inadvertently exclude individuals who don't identify as male, you could use "Hey everyone," "Hi folks," or "Hello team." These alternatives are more inclusive and considerate of diverse gender identities within the group.
  • Cultural Appropriation: While it's important to appreciate and celebrate diversity, appropriating elements of someone else's culture can be offensive. It's crucial to understand and respect the cultural significance behind various practices.

As valued members of our organization, let's commit to fostering an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. Here are a few steps we can take together: 

  • Educate Ourselves: Continue learning about different cultures, identities, and experiences to deepen our understanding and empathy.
  • Listen Actively: When someone expresses discomfort or raises concerns, listen attentively and validate their experiences. This helps create a space where open communication can flourish.
  • Correct and Educate: If you witness a microaggression, gently correct the behavior and provide information to help others understand the impact of their words or actions.

By actively addressing microaggressions and promoting inclusivity, we contribute to a more harmonious and supportive environment. Together, let's make PPCWNY a beacon of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Thank you for your ongoing dedication and commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of those we serve.

A colorful graphic reading, "In diversity there is beauty and there is strength." -Maya Angelou