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Thriving in Diversity Work in the Midst of Unrest

Friday, October 18, 2019  
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By: Daneen Johnson - Diversity Abroad


Thriving in Diversity Work in the Midst of Unrest


“Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do”. I was frequently reminded of this phrase as an adolescent and it’s one that I’ve carried into every facet of my life, including my work here at Diversity Abroad.


Even in doing the “right” thing, our efforts can feel like they are falling short. We get discouraged, and without the proper precautions, burnout can creep in. In the face of identity-based hate tragedies, feelings of numbness, disheartening, and anger are exacerbated, and it’s challenging to navigate them while maintaining professional decorum. As the people that others turn to in times of confusion and hurt, we can help others best when we are at our best.


If you are in need of a recharge, here are a few measures I take to ensure that I’m equipped and healthy enough to persist. There is work to be done and we have to stay ready. Here are a few ways to begin that work.


What You Focus On, Grows


Dr. Seuss said “It is better to know how to learn than to know”. Reflections and learning should happen outside of your office. Seek out diversity learning classes in your community whether it’s at the campus your work at or the city your live in. Even as a facilitator of diversity and inclusion conversations, I seek out professional development workshops to grow the depth of my knowledge so I am able to contextualize a situation better. We have to absorb the same rhetoric we tell our students and be comfortable applying it to ourselves. Engage in conversations that are new or uncomfortable. Reflect on that discomfort, journal it, and share it in safe spaces. The public library or local community centers often provide free community discussions. Get involved in community groups if you can.




Be proactive versus reactive in your wellness. I often reflect on the wellness wheel to determine if there are specific areas that are suffering. Take a break and decompress before you react in a way that contradicts how you would want to respond. Social strife can cause adverse health issues, but you have to determine what works for you. Listen to your body; it’s a good indicator of where you are. Utilize the counseling services on your campus, or take a day off and schedule a wellness day(s). Do something that allows you to relax, be reflective, and realign your priorities. Remember: hurting people, hurt people, but when you’re at your best, you can help people the best.




What are you doing to recharge your community? Is it connecting with a place of worship or  calling friends you haven't spoken to in awhile? Is it traveling, or reading a good book? Seek opportunities to assist others in your community. Volunteer with and for your community. Work and lead beside those who identify differently from you. Shifting your thoughts from inward frustration, to outward service is mutually beneficial and restorative.


We all take different personal measures to ensure that we can thrive professionally. While these suggestions may vary for you, the goal is to make sure that you maintain wellness in the midst of turbulent times, when our work is needed the most.