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Speaking out and speaking up

photo by Wayne Armstrong

As I write this, I can’t help but think and feel deeply about all of the turmoil and uncertainty we’re enduring as a society — the continuing, heinous killings of Black men and women, blatant examples of the impact of inequity and injustice, and a worldwide pandemic. There are several moments in history where there has been a reckoning, a re-igniting of issues that have endured for generations before finally being addressed. I believe we’re at such a time. Regardless of where you land on the spectrum on how much change you believe is needed, whether incremental or systemic or somewhere in between, it is difficult to ignore that change is needed.

As a Black woman and mother with sons and grandsons, I am acutely aware of the fear and pain endured by Black mothers who want to keep their boys safe. I have experienced the aggression and slights we can experience as Black drivers or shoppers, aggression and slights that others usually do not notice. As a child, I was once told I wasn’t good enough for my white friend to jump rope in front of my house. And many times I’ve been ignored or deemed otherwise invisible when trying to speak up and voice my opinion in a meeting.

As I think about my career as a professional communicator over the past 30 years, on behalf of organizations in higher education, within large corporations and for nonprofit workers dedicated to serving the public interest, the one constant is that my role has always been to be a calm, compassionate voice to help facilitate healthy dialogue and productive solutions.

In a message to the community at the beginning of June, Chancellor Jeremy Haefner shared this thought: “All of us have a part to play in taking tangible, ongoing actions to pave the way for dismantling systems of oppression.”

In my role as executive editor of the University of Denver Magazine, one incremental change I know I can affect is to expand the diversity of our editorial board and strive to cultivate a more inclusive culture that listens to and expresses the perspectives of more individuals. In that vein, here’s what I’m looking forward to doing:

I’ve learned over the years that in addition to my professional role as an organizational communicator, I can use my individual influence to speak out and speak up to help cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion that recognizes and celebrates the inherent value of each person regardless of age, race, religion and sexual identity. We all can. And I call on each of you to join in. When one thrives, we all thrive. That’s the true meaning of equity.

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