Fostering Synergy: Bridging DEI through Collaboration” – ep.135

Bridging to Thriving Communities: The Power of Arts and Entertainment – ep.133
April 25, 2024
Motherhood – ep.136
May 9, 2024

In this episode, Melyssa unpacks an essential component for DEI to flourish, synergy. She discusses the beneficial results of breaking barriers by linking our history and empowering diverse voices to create common ground with our peers. 

Melyssa Barrett:

Welcome to the Jali Podcast. I’m your host, Melissa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in the space. Let’s get started.

Yes, another episode of the Jolly Podcast. This week we’re going to talk about embracing diversity, championing equity and fostering inclusion. And yes, I’m going to go back to the basics. Let’s talk a little bit about diversity, equity, and inclusion and our opportunities to shape the world we live in. April has always been a rather big month for me. Recognizing this is the end of the month. My birthday is in April. My anniversary was in April. My husband’s birthday was also in April. And most of you know my husband is now deceased. As you may or may not know, my late husband was an oral tradition storyteller. He did that, yes, for a living. He was a professional storyteller and he had a passion for history. So sometimes you don’t always appreciate your spouse, but what I learned early on was that he could actually relate to so many people because he had such a passion for history.

He could engage with everyone because he had such a depth of knowledge, whether it was African diasporan, indigenous Greek, whatever. He could literally go across the world and connect with people because he had such perspective and was genuinely curious about everyone’s experience. Most of you know this podcast is really a head nod to him as he called himself the jolly. So first of all, I just wanted to highlight how important it is for people to tell their stories. Specifically. We need to make sure that we are telling our stories. We talk about creating stories and how important stories are like in marketing and film, but you have to realize what it’s like to have your stories suppressed or to not be able to tell them or to have someone else try to change the story when they might not have even been there. When our stories are not out there, no matter who you are, you’re limiting your history.

Every one of us has stories within our family, within our generation, within our network, within the work we do, within the community we exist in. Recently, I had the pleasure of Crow presenting at an N-A-A-C-P Youth Summit with Edward Aguilar. So shout out to Ed and San Joaquin Delta College and the work that they are doing there. Specifically in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. At a time where we see so many corporations taking their foot off the gas, we see many educational institutions continuing to ramp up their efforts. We spend some time with high school students talking about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And so whether you’re leading diversity, equity, inclusion efforts or whether you’re living your best life, I just want to encourage everyone to make space for people, make space for people to celebrate their stories, their history, their culture, their people.

And when I say people, I mean every facet of a person. We are complex people. I’m not just one thing. You may look at me and see one thing, but I am multi multifaceted. Diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords. They are fundamental pillars that shape the fabric of our society. Diversity encompasses the myriad of differences that exist among individuals, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, socioeconomic status, and more. But embracing diversity means recognizing and celebrating these differences. Understanding that each person brings a unique perspective and value to the table. Equity is about ensuring fairness and justice for all. It’s acknowledging that systemic barriers exist that prevent certain groups from accessing the same opportunities as others. And achieving equity requires actively dismantling these barriers and creating pathways for everyone to thrive regardless of their background or circumstances. Just think about all the systems that have been in place for years, some even hundreds of years.

Equal rights in the law doesn’t equate to equal rights in practice. And because of where and how this country, the United States was declared, equity must be actively dismantled. It requires diligent thoughtfulness. And when we think about inclusion as the active intentional effort to create environments where everyone feels welcomed, valued and respected, true progress only comes when diverse voices are not only present but heard and empowered to contribute fully. I’m going to say that again. True progress comes when diverse voices are not only present but heard and empowered to contribute fully. So why are these principles so important? One of my favorite African Proverbs, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Diversity, equity and inclusion fosters innovation and creativity. And when you bring people together with different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, you create a fertile ground for new ideas to flourish.

I like to call the synergy that you see when one person thinks of something, another person thinks of something, and the idea that comes about is actually better than what each of you came up with. Individually, diverse teams are more likely to challenge conventional thinking, leading to breakthroughs and solutions that benefit everyone. And we’re seeing that more and more as communities come together and participate. Those breakthroughs, those solutions, we don’t have to continue to do things the way we have done them in the past. DEI is essential for social justice and equality. It’s imperative that we actively work to level the playing field and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. It’s not just a moral imperative. It’s a necessary step towards building a more just and equitable society for everyone. Communities should be ensuring that they’re creating inclusive economies that everyone in their territory has access.

So how can we incorporate DEI in all aspects of our lives? And one of the reasons I love doing this podcast is because it starts with education and awareness. We have to educate ourselves about the experiences and the perspectives of others. We have to confront our own biases and prejudices and seek out diverse voices and viewpoints. We must also advocate for policies and practices that promote equity and inclusion not only in our workplaces, but in our schools, our communities and beyond. We have to also be allies and advocates for marginalized communities. And often we see the victims of those marginalized communities fighting the most, but we need allies. We have to use our privilege and platforms to amplify marginalized community voices and fight for justice and equality. We have to strive to create spaces where everyone feels welcome, valued, respected, regardless of their background or identity. Diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t just kind of lofty goals. They are principles that shape the world we live in. By embracing diversity, striving for equity, and fostering inclusion, we can create a more just equitable and vibrant society for generations. Thank you for tuning in to the Jolly Podcast. Join me next time and please like, subscribe and leave a comment. I would love to hear from you. And until next time, remember to embrace diversity, champion equity, and foster inclusion in all that you do.

Tell the next time. Thanks for joining me on the Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.