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I am particularly mindful right now that the work of fully including, celebrating, honoring, and advocating with and for diverse communities and just structures is an ongoing commitment. As we turn the calendar to April, this rings even more true.
April is National Arab American Heritage Month (first formally acknowledged in 2022), National Deaf History Month, and Sexual Assault and Awareness Prevention Month. Meanwhile, some campus communities celebrate Pride in April (which is also celebrated in June). And diverse religious communities have major celebrations in April: The Jewish community will celebrate Passover, Christians will celebrate Easter, and Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Fitr, feasting to break the fast at the end of the month of Ramadan.
All of these diverse populations of people, and the issues of justice and well-being related to these various official designations, are important and worth learning more about and lifting up. And, yet, not one of us and not one initiative or office can bring the focus and attention to each of these communities and issues that they deserve.
This creates a real challenge. It can be tempting to feel as if no matter what we do, and no matter how earnest our efforts may be, the work of DEIJ is so massive that it will be perpetually measured by how often it falls short. (I admit to sometimes being tempted to this perspective).
But I want to encourage us to choose a different framework of understanding. The gift and beauty of pluralism is that we all—whatever our own experience and identity—get to continue to learn, and have our own lives and experiences enrichened by the growth that learning makes possible.
And the more we lean in and engage diversity with curiosity and openheartedness, the more we become able to truly join and walk alongside one another—and walk in solidarity with the many communities experiencing specific challenges in the face of systemic oppression. In the course of that walk, we also come to realize that our freedom and flourishing is truly bound up in and with one another; and the challenges of DEIJ are nothing in the face of it’s incredible promise.
Let’s keep walking with and toward one another.