Things to Know About Diversity

Things to Know About Diversity

Susan Powell, PhD, Core Faculty in the Counseling Psychology Department.

Tips for learning about diversity:

  • Be aware of microaggressions, which are subtle, unintentional behaviors that represent unconscious, deeply-ingrained biases.
  • Perceptions of the dominant group often differ from those of the minority or oppressed group, based on experience.
  • Becoming culturally competent involves not just having knowledge about other groups or the skills to interact appropriately, but also awareness of aspects of your own identity.
  • Appreciate aspects of your own identity, both privileged and stigmatized (e.g., you might belong to an oppressed group in terms of religion, but a privileged or dominant group in terms of race).
  • Shift your mindset when you have conflict with others around issues of diversity from "They need to change" to "What can I change?"
  • Question yourself when you feel reactive about diversity: "What am I missing in this situation?" "How might my desire to be proven right (or innocent) affect my view of the other person or reality?"
  • Increase your tolerance for making mistakes as you strive to build relationships with people from whom you differ.
  • Learn to "sit in the fire" and deal with difficult emotions (e.g., guilt regarding privilege or anger regarding discrimination).
  • Be an ally (e.g., if you're a white person, speak up about racial inequality).
  • Appreciate your allies.

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