RL Diversity Day


Day Session Blogger: Meghan Corcoran, National Fuel Gas Company

What are the varying types of diversity? How is it more than superficial groups?

The varying types of diversity our group explored throughout the day ranged from race, religion, disability, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and socio-economic background. Additionally, our group started the day by first considering diversity among ourselves as individuals and categories we each identified with.

Diversity spanned more than just identification of protected classes; it encompassed the differences and similarities in identities, backgrounds, and perspectives, influenced by the different types of diversities of that person or, at the very least diversities a person has been exposed to, which in turn influences a person's and community's ability to recognize and appreciate diverse dynamics and identities.

What are the current issues in Buffalo and the nation, in regards to refugees, immigrants, and new Americans?

The legal and financial obstacles refugee and immigrant families face when entering the country, and Buffalo, are always burdensome, but seem to be enhanced under the current administration. Our group was surprised to learn that the average amount of time a person spends in a refugee camp is 17 years. Additionally, if a family is relocated, the program responsible for the relocation may only offer services for a limited time due to resources (i.e. three months following relocation), which typically is not long enough for that family to become fully assimilated into the community.

How does diversity in equity exist in Buffalo, and how can we support segments of our community who are often marginalized?

Diversity in equity exists in Buffalo because not all groups are given access to the same opportunities and resources, so not all groups begin from the same launching point. Barriers exist for some groups and not others, whether those barriers stem from socio-economic status or discrimination based on a diverse class. The community can address equity issues by first recognizing the issue, and then addressing this imbalance. We can support segments of our community who are often marginalized by getting involved with area organizations that promote equity initiatives, speaking out about inequities when they go unaddressed, and always being cognizant of this imbalance.

How did the Servant Leadership trait of Awareness play into the day?

Awareness played a large role in the day, as many of us got to explore and consider different diverse aspects of our communities that we were unfamiliar with. Additionally, awareness of diversity in equity, which was present at each part of the day, was key in first recognizing the different obstacles that others may have to face within the community.

What about this day impacted you the most?

The discussion that impacted me the most was our site visit to Journey's End Refugee Services. I am thankful that I had the privilege to grow up in a safe environment and community. I was surprised to learn that the average amount of time spent in a refugee camp is 17 years, which seems an astronomical amount of someone's life that they have to wait, and are not necessarily in charge of their own future. The stereotypes, misconceptions, and negative rhetoric surrounding refugees and immigrants at this time is creating more barriers to entry and inclusion.

How can we, as leaders in the community, work to improve Diversity in WNY?

I think raising awareness and participating within different community events can help improve diversity and reduce stigmas and stereotypes that people may harbor, consciously or subconsciously.

Based on your day today, what is the biggest challenge in Diversity in Buffalo today?

Education and awareness surrounding under-served communities. If people only operate and interact within their own social circles, less people will be aware of the discrimination and equity issues facing different communities. With education and awareness, people can then move to effectuate change and address these imbalances.

Additional thoughts or take-away's?

Everyone should experience the West Side Bazar and the Pride Parade.