The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same?

We’ve been cleaning, and clearing, out our house the past couple of days, and I came across the photo shown above in one of Villanova’s print publications.

Like many organizations, including schools of higher education, we have committed a great deal of time, energy, and money to the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In fact, we have a training session coming up on August 6 for faculty on how to build an inclusive academic environment. I applaud such efforts, and champion such causes as best I can. I volunteer each year at Villanova’s Special Olympics Festival, and I also serve as a Safe Zone volunteer. Safe Zone provides support for the LGBTQ+ community at Villanova and provides educational opportunities for all community members. Safe Zone helps to create a welcoming and open environment for all and seeks to provide opportunities for increased awareness and visibility of LGBTQ related issues and needs.

A couple of years ago I went to a student diversity skit that was offered as part of freshmen orientation since I was curious how students try to make other students aware of the various issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. I also hoped that I could learn a thing or two that I could incorporate into the classroom.

So you may think that the photo above is from that recent diversity skit that I attended, but that is not the case.

That is a photo from a 2002 University publication. The photo accompanied a story with the following headline:

Diversity Presentation Transforms Hearts and Minds

That’s right, 2002.

We’ve been working on these issues for at least 18 years, and I know we are not alone.

The issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are challenging, and there is no easy solution. But my sense is that we (the University and beyond) have reached a critical stage in addressing such issues, and that real change is on the horizon.

I don’t think it means we have failed if we are still having diversity skits for at least the past 18 years.

John Lewis fought for equality his entire life, from his time as a college student until his final days as a member of the U.S. Senate, where he served for the past 30 plus years.

If we need to keep having skits and seminars on diversity, equity, and inclusion, then so be it.

At some point, hopefully, we will recognize that all people are created equal.

I also hope we can rewrite the title of this blog to “The More We Work for Change, the More Our Efforts Will Be Rewarded”.

34 thoughts on “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same?

  1. I think that changes that involve diversity, equality and those kind of things take really long to happen because they happen quite slowly. As a history major I often see that it takes at the very least a decade for things to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Changing attitudes takes time. Any group that is promoting important topics such as diversity, equity, and inclusion helps to bring that about. I think it’s great that you are involved with the Special Olympics and the LGBTQ community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Special Olympics is a major event at Villanova, and my favorite weekend of the year. And in the interest of full disclosure, even thought I have been a SAFE zone volunteer for three years, I have yet to have a student stop by. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing…

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  3. it has been, (in some places more than others), and will be, an ongoing process. i feel that with the onset of social media and all of public outing of the current discomfort, pain, and violence, it has forced these issues into the light, and hopefully this will lead to significant change sooner, rather than later.

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  4. Great post highlighting the struggle for change. It has been a battle that has raged for a long time. And likely there is no easy end in the near future. Bias and bigotry grow like weeds, and for any garden to have a chance one must pull the weeds constantly. The weeds never stop growing and all we can do is never stop pulling them out by the roots!

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  5. Change can take time, or be fairly swift (as Covid, and our fast-changing digital world has shown us). It’s like chipping at stone; one chip at the time and it is slowly taking a different form. Some stones are harder to carve, some are soft. Wrong angle and the stone may explode to many little pieces but still hold the same properties that the stone had before. One thing I am sure of is that with kind actions such as yours there is hope.

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  6. This has been going on all my life, for as long as I remember. I’ve met a few bonafide bigots in my life, but not many. So then there’s the subtle racism, that supposedly infects our subconscious. It’s invisible, but some people just know it’s there, just below the surface.

    I feel skeptical about subconscious racism, but I do suspect many white people have a real fear of black people, because they want to avoid the stigma of the accusation of being racist. And so a white employer may feel hesitant to hire a black person, due to fear that one day the black person might accuse a coworker or manager of racism.

    If the stigma could be removed, I think genuine dialogue could occur, and we would discover that racism doesn’t affect our attitudes nearly as much as some would have us believe. And then we would trust each other enough to live and work together in peace and harmony.

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    1. I agree that there are some real bigots, but I do believe there are also hidden, or implicit biases that we are not even aware of.

      I think many of us judge people as soon as we meet them, based on how they are dressed, what kind of car they drive, or what they do for a living. And once we start judging people, we become biased towards that person or people similar to that person.

      For example, if I go into a gym, and I see someone covered in tattoos and with a nose piercing, who then starts cursing every five seconds, I might assume that the person does not work for one of the Big 4 public accounting firms. I might then start assuming that any one who looks like that would also behave the same way and would not be capable of working at such a firm.

      Until we can stop judging people, it is going to be hard to really accept all people for who they are.

      I am guilty of judging people more often than I would like to admit…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I do the same thing. But when all you have is looks to go on, you can easily fall into stereotyping. But if you recognize that those initial judgments are just a starting point, and you keep an open mind, you can change your initial judgments over time, as you get to know a person.

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      2. yes, in an ideal world, it would work like that. Sometimes, though, our encounters are so brief with people that we don’t get a chance to know them, so we rely on our judgement, which could be way off.

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  7. Because society proclaims that racism is evil, no one (or almost no one) likes to think they could do anything that is racist. “I’m not a racist. Therefore If I do it, it can’t be a racist act.” Also some think that if they and society generally like or admire someone like Micheal Jordan, then they and society can’t be racist. Barack Obama was elected president so America can’t be racist. We need to get over that kind of thinking. Racism is not measured in how we treat people we know but in how we treat people we don’t know. Great post as always!

    P.S. For the record, John Lewis served in the House. ๐Ÿ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, thanks for catching the error with John Lewis! I will fix that later today.

      Yes, that is the challenge, not judging people we don’t know based on some faulty assumptions…


      1. I think most racism is ignorance. Ignorance is embarrassing but it doesn’t mean we are bad people. We just need to learn. Those diversity skits can help. People need to keep their minds open on race and everything else.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I applaud your efforts to do everything you can to make our society a better place. We need everyone’s efforts to do it. I especially appreciated your final sentence!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks; the Special Olympics Festival is my favorite weekend at the University, and to be honest, even though I am a Safe Zone volunteer, I’ve never had a student stop by my office in the few years I’ve been a volunteer. I don’t know if that is good or bad.

      And let’s just hope that the cumulative efforts of so many people get us to where we should be!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Very good post! Good for you and Villanova in doing what they can to help fight bigotry and to make their campus where all students can feel safe. Keep it up! Sometimes you may not see the rewards, but that doesn’t mean that positive things aren’t happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent discussion! The need for equality has been evolving in this country since 1776. While the journey is ongoing, we shall continue to walk across the remaining bridges which remain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. great point, Richard. Some of these issues have been around since we started our nation. Hopefully we have made some progress since then…


    1. If not taught at home, it starts to get a little problematic, since some people may not want such issues talked about in school, since the way it is taught may not align with their beliefs…

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