My knowledge and perceptions of diversity and inclusion have always been based on my upbringing and life experiences. My upbringing, family, internships, and friends have all combined to form a personality that attempts to be fair, equitable, and compassionate to all people. However, I am too conscious of my defects to believe that I am devoid of implicit biases. So, for the majority of this class I was focused on gaining a formal understanding of issues and diversity and using the class discussions to pinpoint where my biases might be. Through our talks, I learned about intersectionality, which is the idea that multiple aspects of a persons identity could compound to form increased advantages or disadvantages. Ideas like intersectionality were never a part of my high school curriculum or upbringing, so it has been enlightening to learn about the more formal aspects of diversity and inclusion. Generally, I learned that I need to be more conscious in my attempts to be inclusive. It is not simply enough to say that I value inclusion and never learn or grow in the pursuit. I learned that active inclusion is a process that requires constant self reflection and refinement. It also requires a person to be cognizant of their implicit biases and work to correct them over time. I had always valued the ideas of equity and inclusion, but had never put them into action. That is something I will look to correct in the future. There is still so much about diversity and inclusion that I don’t know, and maybe will never know and understand; that being said, this course pushed me beyond my comfort zone and created a space that allowed me to introspect on who I am and how I am perceived by others in terms of my own race and gender. I struggle to understand that the things I say and do can have an affect on others that I never intended but this course pushed me to even accept that about myself and that’s a step in the right direction. Coming into this class I expected to learn about base-line diversity topics but as I am leaving I realize even the small things have stuck with me; such as using the term “guys” to address a room full of both women and men. I plan to continue to use this newfound awareness to continue improving and learning within my own inclusion journey.
Overally, I really enjoyed this class. I expected it to be a very generic and normal class on diversity. However, the class discussions and insights offered by Dr. Grimes and my peers will be invaluable as I continue throughout my career in academia, and I hope that I can become a true champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the future.