By Nandi Sommers ’21, staff writer
On Friday, February 26 St. John Fisher College held a virtual discussion panel with faculty and staff regarding the Diversity Series.
The Diversity Series discussion talked about race and the upbringings of people of different ethnicities. The panel focused on different life experiences and challenges people of color have faced within their communities, challenges of discrimination, and micro-aggressions.
Eileen Lynd-Balta, Associate Provost and Professor asked the question, “How have your relationships been affected by racial identities?”
In response, Dr. Torrance Jones, a professor in the School of Education, said a majority of the people he works with are white and he grew up in a black church/school.
Jones went on to state, “You have two sides that don’t know one another and it’s critical to build bridges with people of the other race because those two sides don’t know one another.”
It’s important to understand and appreciate people’s differences at the end of the day.
Jose Ramos, a Fisher alumn, said, “You have a better understanding and you are more willing to listen, you can have constructive conversations when it comes to talking to people with different backgrounds and different viewpoints”.
Lynd-Balta asked the panel, “What’s the hill you have had to climb because of your race?” In response, Ramos noted that he had to work harder due to where he was coming from and said even if you do try to strive and aim to get out of poverty, sometimes efforts are not enough because of racial discrimination in our society.
Chenno Bowens is the executive assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs atFisher. Bowens stated, “Either you are going to be a part of the solution or a part of the chaos.” She went on to say, “What are the disparities we are looking at within our community? How can we make it better and how can we build? Rather than becoming a part of the chaos”.
Jones made the point that everyone has their own type of implicit bias when it comes to different conversations. He said it’s important to diversify our biases and we need different people at the table in order to have different thoughts.
“Who are we surrounding ourselves with? It’s important to diversify your groups when it comes to culture,” said Ramos.
The final questions were, “How can people support one another?” and “How can POC in the Fisher community be their truest selves?”
“Allow people to be themselves, your workplace should have a family feeling to it.” replied Ramos.
“In terms of support, feeling like you belong is essential and it’s important to take a look at your workplace,” said Jones. “That sense of belonging is important when it comes to feeling supported.”
The Diversity Series talks about how we can change for the better as a community when it comes to creating a more diverse and comfortable work environment for Fisher students and other work settings.
The Friday Diversity Series is held virtually every week. Registration forms can be found in the email. Find additional information regarding Fisher Diversity Events here.