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Journalism, Life Musings

Diversity & Adversity.

Today’s blog post on the SJI site (linked here):

Two words that have come up a lot these past few days are “diversity” and “adversity.” And today, with three seminar sessions with Kenny Irby, founder of the Poynter Institute’s photojournalism program, I finally learned how to put those two together in a sentence–in a way I never thought about before. I had previously been very aware of the lack of minorities and women in the newsroom (from personal experience, and from Dr. Richard Lapchick’s latest minority report) and knew that there were struggles all of us had had to face when starting off on a sometimes uneven playing field. So at that point, the only way I could put the two words together in a sentence was: “By accepting diversity, we have overcome adversity.” But after today’s intellectually stimulating discussions, I realized that diversity was so much more than just about diversifying the newsroom in terms of color and gender. One of the sheets Irby handed out to us in class today was a wheel, titled, “Conditions of Difference,” adopted in-part from Marilyn Loden. This wheel showed the “12 basic conditions of difference we have in the United States for codifying people and their experiences,” and they are: religion; geography; nationality; profession and status; class; education; physical abilities and intellect; race; gender; act; cultural heritage; and sexual orientation. Looking at this handout and discussing these categories with my classmates, it suddenly hit me that these elements that sometimes make us feel “singled out” or “alone” were in all of us, and that they were different for everyone. I know this must sound obvious, but I’d previously thought about how I was different in terms of race, cultural heritage, religion and gender. I had taken for granted how comfortable I felt with my class (family social status), my education, my physical abilities, and my intellect. For others, it wasn’t so simple, and though they didn’t have the same struggles that I felt with religion or gender, they felt other things–things I had never thought about. Irby’s opening questions prompted a great discussion about diversity and how no matter what conditions of difference we had, we could always have someone to relate to, and how by identifying these conditions in ourselves, and in others, we could overcome adversity. And by combining those two words, we could script a more powerful story.



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