On 26 January 2022 Shireen Jeejeebhoy promised a “vibrant” discussion about “Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion”, and it was indeed vibrant. A dictionary definition of “vibrant” being “full of energy and enthusiasm”. The topic of this virtual meeting was the directive of Executive Office with the program material provided by them. Shireen presented the material and guided the ensuing discussions.
Racism is an emotionally tender subject, and as Shireen pointed out, a difficult topic to talk about, but by engaging in the discussion we begin to better understand this issue as a whole, and to realize our own internal, unconscious, biases. At first there was a disbelief, perhaps a denial, that these unconscious biases exist within us, but Shireen cited a poignant scenario wherein the discussion found stereotypes in both job function and recreational setting.
Throughout the discussion there was no doubt that racism should end and that inclusion should be the objective of TriDelta. However the point was raised that existing racism seems to be more of an issue in the USA than it is in Canada. A teacher pointed out that she does not see race, skin color differences, in her classroom wherein all students are treated equally. It was generally agreed that Canada celebrates a multi-cultural society in a way that the USA does not.
Shireen presented some strategies to possibly erase racism and encourage inclusion. Perhaps the primary strategy should be self-examination. Ask yourself, what are your inner thoughts, how do you really feel deep within yourself, when you are transacting with a person who is different from yourself. By asking these questions you will learn the unconscious bias that you may inadvertently hold.
The discussion was so vibrant that it ran much overtime and I do wish I could have stayed to its conclusion. But perhaps there was no concrete conclusion as to how to end racism and how to practice inclusion. Perhaps rather Shireen’s presentation was a stepping stone to further discussions especially about inclusion in TriDelta Alumni because there are so many more situations left to be examined: disability, ageism, gender awareness, accessibility. As alumnae we have all been initiated into the same sisterhood, but several have matured and grown in different directions having had different life experiences, and perhaps we should also be examining inclusion issues that affect our non-collegiate sisters.