Lessons From Nature

For the past month or so, I have been actively seeking out and enjoying the stunning wildflowers that are in bloom throughout Southwestern Ohio. I have always enjoyed hiking and nature, but this year, I have made it a point to learn more about native wildflowers. This Spring, I have spent hours walking along trails and creeks, throughout six different counties, learning about each wildflower that I happen to encounter. I have taken hundreds of photos and am slowly gaining more knowledge about these beautiful miracles that grow along the highway, in pastures and meadows, as well as in deep, cool woodlands. Overall, I have to say that the whole experience encourages me to [...]

The Second Ripple

After my freshman year at Gettysburg College, I transferred to Cornell University. On the first day of classes at Cornell, I experienced my second ripple of change. I walked into a small classroom and saw “Does racism exist in America?” written in big letters on the chalk board. As we filed into the classroom, our professor, Don Barr, asked us to divide into small groups and discuss our responses to the question. I didn’t take much time to think about my answer because I had an immediate response. Based on my personal experience, I planned to share my answer without any hesitation or thought. My answer was a simple “no”. How could I answer [...]

By |2017-07-16T02:18:27-05:00July 15th, 2017|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

Are We There Yet?

If you have children or have been around children, you know that every road trip involves the dreaded question: “Are we there yet?” Adults often moan and may eventually shout a response to the question depending on how frequently it is asked and how much more time it will take to reach the final destination. I think the journey to become more culturally competent is somewhat similar. You might wonder if you are there yet. You’ve read some blogs, you have read some children’s books, and you think it’s important to talk about differences. Are you done? Are you there yet? The answer is no. I’ve been on my journey for over 25 years [...]

Finding Your Way

Writing about skin color reminded me of an experience I had many years ago. Not surprisingly, it involves making a mistake. As a result, I learned two great lessons. One, words can cause harm even without intending to do so. Two, it is important to have teachers and mentors on your personal journey. (Trigger warning: racial slur) During my junior year at Cornell, I was walking back to my dorm with a group of friends. I was the only white person in the group and we were all leaving an African American history class. During the conversation, I used the word mulatto to describe a fellow classmate. It was a word I had heard to describe someone [...]

The First Ripple

As I mentioned in my first post, I grew up in a homogeneous suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. Most people looked like me, worshipped like me, and lived like me. I was surrounded by mirrors. My slow journey towards cultural competence started when I was an undergraduate student. Although I am ashamed to share my experiences, I feel the need to put a stake in the ground so you can understand how far I have traveled. The event I want to share with you took place in 1989 at Gettysburg College, a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. I refer to this experience as "the first ripple." I apologize in advance for being offensive and [...]

Additional Cultural Dimensions

As I mentioned in my last post, there is an endless list of things that help determine how we see the world around us. I have been fortunate enough to discuss this topic with a diverse group of people and with their help, I have added these additional dimensions of culture: Geographic Region: If you were raised in the U.S., what part of the country do you call home? Military Experience: Have you been actively involved in the military? Time Orientation: Do you place more value on the past, present, or future? Personality: Are you an introvert, extrovert, or a combination of both? Community Type: Is home in a rural, suburban, or urban community? Body [...]

Windows and Mirrors

In college, I read an important and life changing article titled Curriculum as Window and Mirror by Emily Style. She is an educator, writer, and co-founder of the National SEED (Seeking Educational Equality and Diversity) Project. In 1988, Emily wrote: “[There is a] need for [education] to function both as window and as mirror, in order to reflect and reveal most accurately both a multicultural world and the student herself or himself…education needs to enable the student to look through window frames in order to see the realities of others and into mirrors in order to see her/his own reality reflected.” In other words, mirrors provide students with the opportunity to see themselves, their reality, and provide a [...]

A New Beginning

Although I have written in the past and have been a frequent public speaker, I am nervous to start this blogging adventure. Putting my thoughts and ideas out in the public domain is a bit intimidating. Before we go any farther, know that I do not like to think of myself as an expert. I am not perfect. I have flaws and limitations like everyone else. I have more to learn. However, I believe I have a meaningful story to share. I grew up in a very homogeneous suburban community near Cincinnati, Ohio. Like most Midwesterners, I was raised to be nice and I was really nice to everyone. But it wasn’t until my [...]