June 2, 2020
Following the Social Unrest, a New Month
Yesterday, June 1, all of our local unit civil rights reviews were due. I shake my head at the irony of that due date considering this past weekend was marked with protests and, in a few cases, riots following the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Many of us understand the need for civil rights reviews and understand the underlying “Why?” of the protests. Others believe that our society and organization offers a level playing field with regards to both programmatic and employment opportunity access. These people question the need for such reviews in our organization and protests in our society regarding social injustice.
When no one questions the need to reach out to the underserved, there will be no need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When the makeup of our organization’s participants, volunteers, Extension Councils, workforce and administrative leadership naturally and always resembles the makeup of our society, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When the spelling or sound of a name on an application, resume’, or curriculum vitae is no longer explicitly or implicitly used to screen candidates in a search and screen committee, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When all peoples know of the resources available to improve their socio-economic condition, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When an innocent person can interact with a law enforcement officer with the same level of security and anxiety that all other innocent citizens feel, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When a guilty person can interact with a law enforcement officer with the same level of security and anxiety that all other guilty citizens feel, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When all in society know that having an understanding of and appreciation for diversity only makes our society stronger, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews or social injustice protests.
When all members of our society look upon each other as brothers and sisters instead of in-laws or outlaws, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews or social injustice protests.
The funny thing is, once we have accomplished all of these and many other organizational and societal goals, we will never want to stop doing civil rights reviews. We will still be ready to protest social injustice. We will want to do these things because we will appreciate how far we have come, and we will never want to go back to a time when entire groups of peoples feel marginalized by the rest of society.
It is now June – a new month. A good time to start moving toward bettering yourself, our organization, and our society. It is time to ask what can you do to help our organization and society achieve these important social goals?
I am no expert on this subject. Nevertheless, I will say this. We do civil rights reviews. We just got done with this year’s local unit reviews. Whenever engaged in a local unit, department, center, college, or university civil rights review in the future, please give them the importance that they are due, and they are of the highest priority. Then use the information learned to improve our inclusiveness and our appreciation for diversity.
We also have our Navigating Difference Training. While this is one component of our agent onboarding process, many of our more experienced agents and specialists have not taken it. If you have not, ask Jennifer Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information regarding this important professional development offering. We are in constant collaboration with Dr. Zelia Wiley, Assistant Dean/Director of the Diversity Programs office, who is always ready to assist. Dr. Wiley is always willing to advise colleagues on inclusion and diversity matters.
Third, we are research-based education professionals. Do your research. Educate yourself or seek out education on this important topic. Make diversity appreciation, social injustice, and inclusiveness topics an important and regular part of your professional development plans.
And, probably most important, seek out friends, acquaintances, or even complete strangers who are different from you. Ask about their life experiences and perspectives. Listen to them with the intent to understand. Ask them for their perspective about how you may be able to help. Then, help.