Thursday, April 17, 2014

My (Ongoing) Ethnic Journey

Being a biracial couple, ethnicity is something my husband Pat and I talk about on a regular basis. We often discuss the tension we feel in InterVarsity. Although we work at the national headquarters, we don't see InterVarsity's value for multiethnicity demonstrated in very many practical ways at the office. For example, most of the leadership in the office consists of white older males, which has a large influence on how meetings are run, how people are supervised, and how decisions are made. Many ethnic minority staff feel voiceless and don't have a way to express certain painful experiences related to being an ethnic minority.

However, in recent weeks and months, many of our coworkers have started discussing these issues together. And Pat, being on the planning committee for our weekly chapel, initiated a three-week series on the topic of multiethnicity.With some of our coworkers, many of whom are also ethnic minorities like me, we worked on a series that would help the office be more aware of the dynamics that go on (such as white privilege), as well as encourage our coworkers to engage in this issue and pursue something better together.

For the second week of the series, we planned a panel discussion, and I was one of three ethnic minority staff who spoke about our experience at the office. We felt very vulnerable sharing some painful and hard things, but I was encouraged by the response from others who said thank you and who followed up with questions and conversation.

Since Pat and I don't often work together, we were energized to collaborate on this project. We hope it will bear fruit in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.

You can listen to the panel here
(about 45 minutes long). 

The other two coworkers on the panel are David Hui and Haley Compean, facilitated by Lisa Rieck.

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback if you do get a chance to listen to this!

Please continue to pray for InterVarsity. Although we have come a long way in making our organization more welcoming and inclusive to all ethnicities, we still have a lot to learn. May God give us grace as well as conviction to see His kingdom come in its fullness.

1 comment:

  1. Laura, I loved listening and learning somethings that can help me in how others of minority process things going on around them. Being white I tend to see things from that perspective, however being a female I am acutely aware of differences. Just yesterday the topic of "Good ol'boys club" came up at a sales meeting and was the first to shout out that it was true. Many men were actually shocked to hear that woman still felt this way. I said that I did not think it was intentional, but based on how we are wired differently (men and women) As the day went along I was made aware of how we in the secular workplace are very unaware of the differences that exist with ethnicity and genders. It has taken me a long time to embrace that being a woman is ok and that I do not need to conform to a man's world of thinking to have value. However the gap still remains and if we do not have open honest conversations about this, the gap will remain. I truly believe that God wants us to embrace our differences and to come together as Christians to share and learn from those differences. I love learning about different cultures and people's backgrounds. I also know I still have a lot of learning on how to be sensitive and aware of how those differences affect each other. I wish that I worked at place where this could be openly discussed in a healthy and respectful way. Thank you for sharing and your willingness to be so open and vulnerable