2016-10-13

By Ebony Kirkendoll, City Year Milwaukee, Senior Corps Member at South Division High School 

Inclusivity is not simply ensuring that a community has a space in which they say all are welcome, but instead having a space where all actually feel welcomed and safe. I am fortunate that I get to see this happen daily with my team. It truly amazes me when I see them acknowledge, embrace and seek to understand each other’s differences. They show this through team building activities led by me and in situations where they must truly act as a team and lean on each other. However, I also see inclusivity within the whole corps. For example, we have added sharing our preferred pronouns when we introduce ourselves. This allows those who do not adhere to the standard binary to feel safe in their work space. It also encourages dialogue about topics that some might not have talked about before.   

It would remiss of me to make it seem that achieving inclusivity is easy. I believe that I fail at it every day. However, each day I strive to be more inclusive. I think the best way one can break barriers between our colleagues, peers and students is by educating ourselves on social justice issues. So much of what we were conditioned to believe growing up I have found to be misconstrued or simply wrong.  

To truly be inclusive and create a truly inclusive environment I would consider the following things to be at the top of the list:  

  • Knowledge 

  • Authenticity in who you are 

  • Seeking to understand, instead of seeking to accuse or place judgement 

Our world is ever changing and when we become stagnant in our mindsets, we cease to be inclusive.  At the end of the day when it comes down to it, this is what I think of when I think inclusivity: 

My team has shown me the power of diverse young people coming together for a common cause. We trust each other to build a stronger team so we can serve our students to the best of our ability. We are able to have discussions when we find ourselves not being inclusive. We understand that we care about the each other's growth. This is not only seen on my team, it is seen throughout the work that City Year does and will continue to do. 

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