The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs hosted a virtual lecture with Feminista Jones on Nov. 13.
The lecture focused on non-profit organizational leadership, diversity and inclusion, as well as gender and racial bias.
Jones is a feminist writer and retired social worker from Philadelphia. She has written four books, including Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World From the Tweets to the Streets. She also runs an award-winning blog.
In 2017, Jones was named one of the 100 most influential people in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine.
In 2018, she was acknowledged by Philadelphia Style Magazine for her work in the community and activism.
Cherokee Johnson, an SVSU junior and the president of Black Unity, moderated the event. After she gave an introduction to Jones, they dove into discussing the importance of the topic.
“I think this is relevant and important to the time, talking about this idea of diversity and inclusion,” Jones said. “Over the last several months, there have been a lot of conversations about the ways in which organizations and institutions are dealing with issues around racial bias particularly. But also, in the last couple of years, especially with the emergence of the #MeToo movement, dealing with gender-based issues.”
Jones explained how important it is to have uncomfortable conversations.
“It’s super important that we keep talking about these things and we keep advancing the conversation,” Jones said. “This way we’re not going in circles and we’re really thinking about things differently so we can become more radical in our actions.”
Jones broke her presentation into three main points: are diversity and inclusion a scam, assessing and restructuring organizational culture and organizational trauma.
She broke down for viewers what exactly diversity means.
“Diversity incorporates all of the elements that make individuals unique from one another,” Jones said. “While there are infinite differences in humans, most of us subconsciously define diversity by social categories such as gender, race, age and so forth. We often include things like sexual identity, disability, veteran status and classes.”
Jones described organizational trauma as any event that could happen in the work place and could cause mental distress to its employees. This could include sexual assault/harassment or racially charged incidents.
“Coming from a social work background and really dealing with people who have experienced significant trauma throughout their lives, I was like this to also be happening in organizations,” Jones said. “People have been able to identify that, but how do we go about addressing it when people don’t have experience dealing with trauma?”
The event concluded with a Q&A mediated by Johnson.