Reverend Dr. Jamie Washington, an SRU alumnus, came to speak about diversity and inclusion Tuesday night in the Smith Student Center Ballroom to cap off the Black History Month events.
Washington graduated from SRU in 1982, went on to Indiana University Bloomington for his master degree and to University of Maryland College Park for his doctorate. Throughout his life and studies, he said, he learned that his passion lies within higher education.
Washington focused his speech on what diversity means and how important inclusion is. He wanted to let students know that with courage and conversation, inclusion will grow to where it needs to be.
“We must be willing to move out of our comfort zone intentionally and effectively,” Washington said.
Washington discussed the theme of this year’s Black History Month celebrations, “Before and Beyond: Strengthening Our Foundation.” After asking the audience what it means to them, with or without regard to black history, Washington explained that we must know where we came from to know where we are going.
“Our mission is to have you ready for the world and to engage effectively in difference,” Washington said. “Develop the capacity to find your voice in a full room.”
In order for us to be inclusive, we must understand diversity, Washington said.
“Diversity is about more than race and race is about more than black and white,” Washington said. While the media may focus on this, we must gear away from it, he said.
The narrative of race has erased certain races and singled out black and white. Washington explained the exclusion dynamic by saying that there are always two groups: one that is usually overly included and one that is excluded. An example would be blacks and whites, or men and women. Once we realize the diversity of these groups, we can take the necessary steps to being inclusive and accepting of everyone.
“Diversity is about all of us. It’s not about the diverse ‘other,’ it is about all of us,” Washington said. In order to move beyond diversity, we must understand the exclusion dynamic. We are all part of groups that are excluded, and we are all part of groups that are overly included, Washington said.
Washington reminded us we all need to take part in the pathway to inclusion to make a difference.
“Raise the discussion. Share what you learned. Go beyond diversity to really get what inclusion looks like,” Washington said. “We get to shape and shift the future as the next generation of leaders and we must have a problem with the current dynamic to fix it. Allow yourself to be present in your agitations, because there you may find your purpose.”
This event was sponsored by APSCUF, ARHS, BFSA, Black Action Society, the CSIL, DEI Leadership Team, Frederick Douglass Institute, Gender Studies, NRHH, Office for Inclusive Excellence, Office of Alumni Engagement, President’s Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, SGA and UPB.