Diversity Matters by Karen Longman

“If someone is blatantly racist, at least I know where the person stands. Someone who has unconscious biases and attitudes but thinks he or she is actually helping to make a positive change can do a lot of damage.”

This sentence struck me pretty hard. It hit me hard because I have to come to the realization that I probably do more damage than I could ever imagine. I like to think of myself as a well-adjusted, educated, and enlightened person that can easily identify racism – conscious or not – but in reality, my perception is probably way off.

This realization leads to fear and this fear leads to inaction which only leads me to more enabling. It is a cycle that harrowing and unwanted. It is hard to not feel powerless, even though my measurement of powerlessness is absurd. I feel this is white fragility at its core.

I wanted to read this book because I wanted to learn. I want to move forward. I want conversations to happen. I want to enhance the world I am in. This was a perfect book for me at this time. The authors of each chapter spoke with authenticity. They shared their pains, frustrations, hopes and joys. At the very least, these got me to think again about things I haven’t thought about in years (obviously a sign of privilege when you can go long spans of time without thinking about your race).

Another quote from the book that hit me hard, “How much will I have to give up to succeed?"

It seems so counterintuitive to sacrifice something to succeed, but this is a reality for many when they enter college especially a predominantly white, private, Christian college. I have heard these stories from my students; they have talked about giving up their identity, abandoning their families, losing their heritage all in hopes of fitting in to the campus culture. Though I see and understand their frustrations, it is difficult for me to feel and empathize their loneliness.

I think this this a fantastic book. It ought to be a must read for higher education administrators.

Here are a few more quotes that I stuck with me.

“When we face adversity and failure, a caring community can be a source of strength to deepen our resolve and provide the courage to continue.”

“Diversity work and leadership is about relationship, relationship, relationship”

“When we honor God by serving our institutions well, despite their imperfections, God will honor us.”