Letter from the editor: Let's talk about Diversity Dialogues

By Dora Totoian | January 20, 2020 12:02pm
Dora Totoian, reporter and Opinion editor for The Beacon.
Media Credit: Annika Gordon / The Beacon

I considered myself a reasonably informed person. I thought I was fairly aware of social injustices and systems of oppression in the United States. And of course, I wasn’t born here and learned English as a second language, an identity that’s given me lots of insights others may lack. So, why did I feel confused and uncomfortable during the 2018 Diversity Dialogues Keynote when Prisca Dorcas, founder of Latina Rebels, spoke about racism, colonialism and oppression? 

Dorcas’ speech was an opportunity to question and redress some of my own biases and problematic thought patterns ingrained from living in and being centered in a white-focused society. 

Do I still participate in flawed and oppressive ways of thinking? Of course. And I always will, even though I try to question these ways of thinking to be a better member of society. 

But I wouldn’t have had this realization if not for a Diversity Dialogues-sponsored event. I’m sure that everyone, regardless of their perceived awareness of social justice issues and the lives of people different from them, has something they need to learn at this year’s Diversity Dialogues

As Opinion editor of The Beacon, I urge you to participate in this year’s programming and then, talk about it with the UP community, via our Opinion pages. The name “Diversity Dialogues” implores us to discuss and analyze what we hear and learn at these events. 

  • Is your club or group planning an event? I’ve reached out to all groups organizing events and encourage them again to share why it’s important for the UP community to attend and a preview of what people can expect to learn. Alternatively, your group could write in after your event as a way to keep the conversation going. 

  • Did you learn something you feel obligated to share with others? 

  • Did you agree or disagree with something you heard? 

  • Anything related to Diversity Dialogues you just can’t stop thinking about? 

Now, a note: Participating in Diversity Dialogues and preaching “diversity and inclusion!”, especially if you’re white, doesn’t make you a hero. It is the least you can do to make the world fairer for people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, national origins, abilities and faiths. To accomplish that requires a radical restructuring of the institutions and systems we exist in, and participating in Diversity Dialogues guarantees that you’ll learn something and can be the first small step toward creating that world. 

On a campus where diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have faced obstacles (as well as made progress), participating in Diversity Dialogues and sharing your thoughts with your community offers you a chance to contribute your input on the kind of campus you want UP to be. 

To voice your opinion on Diversity Dialogues (or anything else), visit our opinion submission page, and contact me at totoian20@up.edu with any questions. 

Dora Totoian is a reporter and the Opinion editor for The Beacon.