I want to believe myself as a champion of diversity, inclusivity and equity. The struggles I’ve overcome as a human, derived of society’s response to my own identities, have built a deep empathy for others. As a member of an under-invited group that has been marginalized by my culture, I have seen first hand how our upbringing may negatively and some times unknowingly affect the way we act onto others. Luckily, these challenges, and the progressive environment that surrounds me, have allowed me to develop awareness of my own biases that I need to overcome to be a better person, and in turn, a better teacher.
One thing that has been a bit harder for me to understand is the fact that this experiences, even though truly challenging and unfortunate, are an advantage that I have over people that did not experienced similar hardships in their lives. If I did not go through societal rejection, neglect and underrepresentation, it would’ve been harder for me to understand the challenges that, for example, women have in science or African Americans in higher education. It took me years of reflection, getting informed and discussion with friends and family to get to where I am, and it is hard for me to acknowledge and accept that everyone is at different points in this journey.
That is my biggest challenge when I think of my actions on diversity, inclusivity and equity. When I have discussions with particularly stubborn peers or when someone criticizes the inclusivity strategies I put in place in my classroom, I get frustrated on their lack of understanding. I need to accept that even when my actions did not get the immediate effect that I was looking for, they might contribute to their integral growth on these topics. Just two days ago, when having a heated discussion with a close friend about underrepresentation of women, I had to accept that I wasn’t going to change their mind in one night. My role in their journey is small, but it is still valuable and I will not stop taking action!
I need to recognize that I still have a long way to go on my own journey, and every day and every interaction I take makes me grow into the person I need to be in terms of inclusivity, and how it can I tailor my teaching to be the best for every single one of my students.