DiversityNursing Blog

Multiracial Identity: Learning with Agility and Openness

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Sep 14, 2012 @ 01:55 PM

By: Tanya M. Odom, Ed.M.

Diversity and inclusion is an evolving field. As a learner and practitioner, I work to embrace the expanding definitions while respecting the importance of the historic diversity topics of race and gender.

How we approach conversations about difference can determine how we embrace new definitions of identity, and the “agility” needed to learn, grow, and support all people in organizations.

Multiracial people are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States. As Andrea Williams mentioned in her article about multiracial students in the April/May 2012 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity, “the 2010 Census marked the second time in the survey’s history that responders were allowed to check more than one box regarding their race; the first was in 2000. And as a result, demographers now have access to data that allows for comprehensive comparison and charting of the mixed race population. The results are remarkable: from 2000 to 2010, the number of multiracial American children – who will soon be attending colleges and universities across the country – rose by almost 50%, to 4.2 million.

The changing demographics have inspired people to create language like “the multicultural generation” and “ethnically ambiguous,” among others. Williams’ article presents some important reflection about creating schools and universities that support multiracial students.

Not-for-profit organizations and corporations will also need to update their language, understanding, and awareness to include multiracial employees, and employees with multiracial families.

A June 2012 Fast Company article talked about the importance of “cultural agility.” They defined “cultural agility” as “the capacity to recognize, understand, and respond appropriately to various cultures, and to work within those cultures to achieve business results.” The language of “agility” is also highlighted in the Center for Creative Leadership’s recent newsletter. They talk about flexibility and agility as a key to leadership. Agility is an important part of the learning and awareness in diversity and inclusion. Multiracial identity is not new, nor is the presence of multiracial families in our organizations.

There is a global history of multiracial people. There is a substantial scholarship focusing on the role of multiracial people in our history, media, etc. What we have not seen at the same level is the inclusion of multiracial people in diversity and inclusion dialogues and programs. As a multiracial global diversity and inclusion practitioner and coach, I have learned that, as with all diversity topics, there are varying levels of awareness about what multiracial identity means to employees and to diversity and inclusion initiatives.

One of the first times that I was part of a professional “group” of multiracial individuals was while attending a Working Mother Media Women’s conference. I remember feeling the uniqueness of the experience.

Participants in workshops or present at some of my speeches would approach me and talk about their “invisible diversity,” which for some meant their multiracial identity. For others, it meant their partner, spouse, or child of a different race. Often they swapped tales of not having a place to share their diversity stories.  

The presence of multiracial individuals and families can challenge our notions and comfort around talking about race and history, race and families, and race and racism.

Multiracial individuals and families are part of the changing workforce. In the spirit of learning agility, I would suggest that organizations learn to incorporate language and programs that include multiracial individuals and families.

We can continue to be “agile” in our learning about multiracial identity by:

  • Assessing data collection that does not allow for identifying as multiracial individuals and families;
  • Including multiracial groups as part of the growing affinity/ERG/Networking groups within organizations;
  • Allowing multiracial people to self-identify – and not identify employees based upon what we observe;
  • Updating our language and communication to include multiracial identity and;
  • Learning more about national groups (SWIRL, MAVIN, etc.) that address multiracial identity and families.

Our learning and growth continues as long as we remain “agile.” The inclusion of more stories, experiences, and identities makes the journey even richer.

Tanya Odom, Ed.M, is a part-time Senior Consultant with The FutureWork Institute and a member of the INSIGHT Into Diversity Editorial Board.

Published in September/October 2012 issue.

 

 

 

Topics: multiracial, bicultural, diversity, ethnic, hispanic, black, cultural, culture, ethnicity, haitian

Most And Least Diverse Cities: Brown University Study Evaluates Diversity In The U.S.

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Sep 14, 2012 @ 01:47 PM

With the battle over immigration raging on and racial and ethnic minorities surpassing whites for the first time, there's no question the U.S. is getting more diverse.

A newly released study from Brown University has pinpointed just where the most diversity is taking place, scoring metro areas by how evenly each city's populatibrownon is spread across the five racial groups: Non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics of any race, African-Americans, Asians and an “other” category comprised of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and people of two or more races.

According to the US2010 Project, immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere have expanded the population of minority residents beyond African Americans, a trend that experts say will eventually lead to as many "minority" as "non-minority" residents, if it continues.

As of 2010, western, southern and coastal metropolitan areas continue to be the most diverse, with California's Vallejo-Fairfield claiming the top spot.

In addition to location and how evenly a city's population was distributed across racial groups -- a perfectly diverse place would have a population with exactly 20 percent of each category and a total score of 100 -- the community characteristics researchers correlated with diversity were: large total and foreign-born populations; high rental occupancy, as a community needs a supply of rental housing to accommodate newcomers; a range of occupational options, including entry-level jobs; and a low minority-to-white income ratio.

Check out this article to see the most and least diverse cities in the U.S.

Topics: chinese, multiracial, diversity, diverse, hispanic, black, culture, diverse african-american, haitian

The Advocacy Project

Posted by Wilson Nunnari

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 @ 09:09 AM

by Jennifer Etienne and Anna Diane
Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing

Our names are Jennifer Etienne and Anna Diane, and we are currently senior nursing students at Boston College. This past January, Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing sponsored a nursing service trip to Leogane, Haiti as a part of the community health clinical requirement. This service trip included Boston College (BC) nursing students, nurse practitioners and registered nurses. We held mobile clinics for ten days and saw over 1100 patients. Over the course of our trip, we encountered many patients who we will never forget.
BC
We were amazed by the beauty and kindness of the Haitian people despite all the myriad challenges of their daily lives. We saw many of the common medical conditions that we see in the U.S., such as hypertension, GERD, and diabetes. Due to the area’s extreme poverty, most of our patients had not received health care in years- if at all. A typical day consisted of waking up at 6 a.m., eating breakfast, and packing up a truck with all of the medications and supplies that we had restocked and repacked the night before. We worked with the resources that were available in the community. We set up the clinic with a triage station, consultation, and pharmacy that were situated in the home of one of the individuals within the community. We were fortunate to have a Haitian dentist participate in our clinic as well. Generous neighbors were kind enough to donate chairs and tables for use in our clinics. The women’s privacy room for pelvic exams was constructed from two sheets and a cement wall on a slab of pavement, and the dentist did his work in a reclining lawn chair. In spite of these challenging conditions, our clinics were very successful with the individuals within the community, as exemplified by their gratitude.

The truth is that the people in Haiti receive little healthcare and basic problems often become major health concerns, which is very frustrating to us as future health care providers. This experience illustrated the importance of preventative health care measures. Preventative health care measures, such as providing health education, not only empowered the people, but also gave us a chance to interact with our patients. For example, we crafted and brought cycle beads, which we handed out to the women who we saw in our clinics. These beads help women with family planning as an alternative to birth control contraceptives because many Haitian women do not have the choice to take birth control or access to contraceptives.
It was clear that education was the most important aspect of health promotion and health prevention in Haiti, because it gave the Haitian people a sense of autonomy. For example, simple measures such as demonstrating to Haitians how to properly carry a bucket of water by evenly distributing their weight could help prevent future back problems. We realized, however, that in order to educate the Haitian people on preventative measures, we had to consider what resources were available to them. For instance, teaching a group of Haitian families how to reduce their risk of hypertension would be difficult since measuring cups and nutritional labels are not always available to them. However we could overcome the issue by demonstrating the healthy amount of salt used to prepare meals by using the tip of one’s pinky as an alternative measuring device. Such measures could help to reduce the risk of hypertension in Haitian families and significantly improve overall health. We believe that the use of primary prevention can help to prevent illness in Haiti and empower the people to make their own healthy choices.
Even though we treated more than eleven hundred patients, the realization that the majority of Haitians still lack access to basic health resources was overwhelming. Despite this sad reality, the people we met and the patients we treated assured us that our work was appreciated and worthwhile. Treating this population was an extremely moving experience. We were able to immediately see the difference that we were making, whether it be through treating a baby with scabies or rehydrating a child, the patients were enormously appreciative. This trip has forever changed how we view the care that we will provide as future nurses. We are more aware of the issues that affect Haitians, such as a pervasive lack of health education and the need for more culturally sensitive health care providers. This experience has further motivated us, because as minorities, we recognize our important role in communicating, advocating, and initiating preventative programs to help improve the care and quality of health of minorities. We hope to apply our nursing skills, education, and experiences to help decrease health disparities both within the U.S. and other countries.

Thank you for allowing us to share about our experience in Haiti. We strongly encourage others to consider doing nursing work abroad. In addition to helping those in need of care, such trips endow nurses with truly invaluable perspective into the issues that face the world of health care. With hope, the insights that nurses gain through these types of trips will benefit their patients for years to come.

Topics: nursing, black nurse, black, nurse, nurses, haitian

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