The Poetry of Diversity and Inclusion

by Luke Lara, Ed.D.

Poetry is one of the many ways I lose myself, reconnect, and feed my creative side. Few people know that I write poetry or that I compose music. These creative outlets allow me to tap into my emotions, spirituality, and ancestral guides.

Lately, I have written several blogs on equity, diversity, and inclusion. These concepts in action (or inaction) cause folks to feel stuck, energized, exhausted, and confused. Our institutions can be advancing forward or backwards.

Below are two poems I have written that convey my own personal emotional journey with these terms and how they operate in higher education and beyond. Enjoy and contemplate.


Diversity in a Checkbox Nation
 
Check
 
Check
 
Check
 
Check
 
Black               White              Hispanic          Ecuadorian
                      And everything in between
 
Nobody dares ask me “Who are you?” or “¿Quíen eres?”
            only anonymous and optional forms
care to ask
            in multiple languages too
 
Potential employers do not greet me in mi idioma natal and
they cannot ask about my race,
sexual orientation,
religion,
                        national origin,
                                    gender,
                        political affiliation . . .
                                    but their intake surveys can
 
I want the job because of WHO I am
            yet
                        they
                                    cannot
                                                hire
                                                            me
because of who THEY think I am
 
The census is no better
The government doesn’t care about ME
Los sin vergüenzas only want my data
My male Latinx Black and White cishet mishmash ass
is just
another point
among all the data
 
What would it cost someone to ASK me “Who are you?”
            What would it mean for someone to LISTEN?
                        At what point will we stop seeing each other as data?
                                    When will the system care about ME?
 
What connects us is not data
                                                            What brings us closer is our stories
           
Sin miedo – without fear
            share your story
                        and ask others to compartir - share
            listen without interruption
                        with full respeto
 
 
 
                        Accept their story
                                    for their story is theirs and theirs alone
                                                we could never know it
                                                            except if we listen
                                                                        and we find the rhythm
                                                            of
                                                humanity
                                    that                             que
                        runs                                                     corre
            deep                                                                            profúndamente
within                                                                                                  por dentro
 
So, now you are ready to listen to my story
            Who I am
                        What my purpose is in life
                                    And why I am here
                                                Sharing mi historia with you
  One & the Same
 
I have been searching
for the elusive one we call
DIVERSITY
 
Have you seen them?
 
Yes, Diversity is plural,
            a cosmic and radiant group
They are hard to miss
look at any college website
            or company brochure
Everyone seems to love Diversity,
            embrace Diversity
 
Yet, when I visit that college campus or business
I ask, “Where did diversity go?”
 
They tell me,
            “Oh, there she is”
            or, “That’s him right there”
 
Diversity is no longer plural,
no longer cosmic
or radiant
 
Diversity looks dull,
            demoralized,
                        burned out,
                                    tired of being singular
tired of being alone
            tired of the world of isms
 
I still have hope that I’ll see them again,
somewhere
 
Now, I search for Inclusion
They are certainly plural
            And related to Diversity by blood
 
You may have seen Inclusion
They tend to be in positions of power,
or at least they are valued stakeholders
I ask,
 
“Where might I find Inclusion in this organization?”
 
They point to her
 
I blink my eyes,
adjust my glasses,
and I see a familiar face
It is singular Diversity again
 
I ask,
“But, where is Inclusion?”
 
            No response
 
Head hung low
I walk away
 
When will we know true Diversity?
 
When will we honor true Inclusion?
 

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