Equity and Inclusion in human terms
In my book: Until you walk in My Shoes: A Reframing Methodology to Overcome Systemic Discrimination, I recount my utmost surprise when a white colleague of mine seemed not to understand the incredible fear I experienced when six cops surrounded my car late one night and there was no one who in sight as witness to the event.
I concluded that it is not that good people do nothing. It is that good people feel nothing.
This brings me to the essence of Equity and Inclusion.
Equity is what we SEE. We see when others are treated with preference. We see it when processes are not managed transparently and fairly.
Equity is what we FEEL.
We feel it when our raised hand is ignored. We feel it when we are passed over for promotion. We feel it when we are treated with negative stereotypes.
Equity is what we see
Inclusion is what we feel.
Take any conflict and ask, what do the combatants SEE?
What do the combatants FEEL?
Then ask how do we build Equity and Inclusion?
What the hell do I do now!
I had a wonderful workshop with the South Florida group of SIM, on October 23rd. It was the first application of the SHD Reframing Process on resolving conflict.
Elizabeth Decker led the session by replacing my usual presentation on the Reframing Process with an engaging interview. I must say, I felt that this was a more natural way to present the Reframing Process than by PowerPoint slides.
There were some has during the workshop. One was that when one views Equity as what one Sees and Inclusion as what one feels, then one looks at conflict somewhat differently.
In fact, it became clear that before we can embark on finding a ‘Better Problem to Solve’ we have to examine the alignment between the Desired Outcome and the Problem Statement.
I was quite impressed by the engagement of the group and how rapidly they grasped and applied the Reframing concepts.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to delve deeply into the second case. It was, however, quite impressive that the group immediately realized that the case had at least three layers of conflict and thus selecting ‘a Better Problem to Solve’ required discussing which layer offered the best opportunity for a Reframe.
I learned as much as the attendees did in this workshop.
Thank you, SIM
Reframing Webinar at Lehigh University
Yesterday, I led an exciting webinar for students in the RARE ( Rapidly Accelerated Research Experience) program at Lehigh University. This was the first of three webinars based on my book: Until You Walk in My Shoes: A Reframing Methodology to Overcome Systemic Discrimination. The webinars are hosted by Profs. Vassie Ware and Neal Simon, the co-directors of the RARE program. Dr. Odi, the Deputy Vice President of Equity and Community was also in attendance.
I was quite impressed by the rapidity with which the students utilized the Equity-inclusion Culture Matrix to find a ‘Better Problem to Solve’ and to Reframe the Problem.
The discussion also identified some common problems students from marginalized communities face and potential Reframes.
Dr Odi also surprised me by sharing with the students a contribution that I had made to an urgent problem the university was facing. My suggestion was a Reframe which led to a recommendation that has been successfully implemented and adopted by many departments of the University.
Dr. Odi, thank you for that testimonial!
The Reframe Doctor.
60 years of Equity and Inclusion.
On August 20, 1963, I arrived in the USA, from British Guiana (now Guyana) as the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship. About three days later, I explained to a Yale professor that I could not make my presentation that day, but needed to see a doctor. I was stunned when he said: ‘You Black students always have excuses. Now you are a Fulbright scholar. You will have to work hard to deserve that honor.’ Fortunately, I was able to locate the administrator in charge of the program who took me to the Yale New Haven Hospital where I was immediately admitted and spent 10 days in diagnostic procedures and treatment.
Later I learned that during my hospital stay, Dr. Martin Luther King, in his historic Washington speech, said that he hoped his ‘four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ In less than one week in the US, I had experienced being judged by the color of my skin.
I went on to Lehigh University, where I was one of four Black students in the entire University. I not only experienced discrimination, I also experienced professors and students who accepted me because of the content of my character.
These individuals occupy conscious space in my Lehigh memories.
I celebrate being a member of the prestigious Gryphon Society of Freshman counselors.
I celebrate the memory of Dean Yates, who insisted on paying the initiation fee for Phi Beta Kappa when he learned that I had declined it because I did not have the fee. I accepted his kind offer when he explained that this was an important recognition of my academic achievements.
And I will never forget Professor Daen, one of the Professors in Physical Chemistry. He was the first person who asked that simple question: Tell me about you, the person Frank Douglas. At the end of that conversation, he pointed out that after three years I had enough credits to graduate, and although it was March, he would get me interviews at several graduate chemistry programs. Suffice it to say, not only did he do that, but he also guided me in making my final choice for Cornell University. We selected Cornell from among the other prestigious acceptances because of his analysis of the philosophical life challenges with which I was dealing. As he said: You will be in a demanding Chemistry graduate program, but you will also be able to drop in at the Willard Straight Hall and participate in the latest political or philosophical discussions. This was the mid sixties!
And I celebrate my friend Dr. James Stamoolis, who helped me understand aspects of American university life and culture. I also have lasting memories of my Gryphon, Dr. Geoffrey Stiles, who appeared at my dorm room on December, 26, 1963, because he knew that I was alone on the campus and probably without money.
Those who judge others by the content of their character automatically and naturally Include and practice Equity.