Diversity Assessment Tools

W.K. Kellogg Foundatons: http://www.racialequityresourceguide.org/about/glossary

Anti-racism resources 

Frequently Used Assessment Tools

The current emphasis on measuring intercultural competence has inspired a large number of new assessment instruments. These instruments address a variety of needs for outcomes measurement, program evaluation, and personnel selection, as well as providing useful tools for coaching and training. This is a list of some of the most frequently used assessments, contact information, and a brief description of the major aspects of each of them. Please follow the link: Frequently Used Assessment Tools



PBS Series Race the Power of an Illusion:

Episode 1: The Difference Between Us  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8MS6zubIaQ   5:14

Episode 2:  The Story We Tell  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UZS8Wb4S5k   6:11

Episode 3:  The House We Live In  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW764dXEI_8   6:04


  • Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business by Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner. Hardcover $28.96
  • Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations by Geert Hofsteded. Paperback $79.12

There are several resources from this author which can be found at  https://www.geert-hofstede.com/.


Cultural Detective. https://www.culturaldetective.com/

Diversity Assessment Tools (Personality, Communication, Thinking)

By Kathy Lechman, Leader of Diversity Development, Ohio State University Extension

Defining Diversity

Diversity has become a very talked about issue and for some it may be considered a politically correct “buzzword”, reality is that diversity is among us on a constant basis and a well-prepared leader understands this and uses the diversity of staff as an advantage and as a way to further the goals of the organization. Ohio State University (OSU) Extension uses the following definition of diversity: “Differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practices, and other human differences (OSU Extension Strategic Plan for Diversity)”. As this definition demonstrates, there is more to diversity than racial, ethnic, or cultural characteristics. These aspects of diversity are important but when looking at the workforce there are many other dimensions to consider. We cannot deny that our race, ethnicity, gender, or religion influences our personality but consideration should be given to the possibility that other factors also contribute to our personalities. With the increasing diversity of the workforce, leaders in organizations must work with people who are not only racially, ethnically and culturally different but who also bring with them diversity in communication styles, conflict management styles, and personality types. “Diversity is about leadership’s capacity to influence people to WILLINGLY work toward company objectives…It is valuing differences no matter how big or small they may seem (Burrs, Linda. 2002. Diversity – It’s More than Just a Notion. www.step-up-tosuccess.org)”. Examining aspects of diversity that move away from focusing on the observable and or physical differences provides an opportunity to highlight the subtle and often hidden aspects of diversity that exist among people. A variety of assessment instruments exist, including: Myers/Briggs Type Indicator, Jung’s communication styles Assessment, Spectrum Color personality types, Coachman’s conflict management styles, the Enneagram, and many others.

Benefits of Celebrating Hidden Diversity

All of these assessments provide useful information on how people prefer to operate and relate. These assessments also offer additional dimensions of diversity that should be considered by supervisors, and managers when establishing work groups, task forces, and or committees. A variety of personality styles, communication, and thinking styles enrich any group and can actually increase productivity and creativity. Knowing styles and preferences of co-workers is important but it is also important to know our own preferred style. As leaders, we need to be able to tap into the strengths of our employees as well as our own. “When people are encouraged to work in their areas of strength, they are happier, more productive, and more likely to stay with the company or organization (Burrs, Linda. 2002. Diversity-It’s More than Just a Notion. www.step-up-tosuccess.org)”. Demonstrating appreciation for these dimensions of diversity is also setting the tone for a healthy and accepting work environment where people can excel. As mentioned earlier, culture, race, ethnicity, and religion along with a myriad of other factors are important aspects of diversity and just like we need to be wary of racial and ethnic stereotypes, we need to be cautious not to stereotype or pigeon hole personality types. For example, a person who is an Extrovert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging (ESFJ) on the Myers/Briggs will not always be the leader of a group or be the first to speak at meetings. Just like an Introvert, Intuitor, Feeling, Perceiver (INFP) is perfectly capable of leading and taking charge of a large group and making decisions quickly.

Websites to Explore

Websites to Explore

The Long Walk Home

With Ellen Summerfield

Long Walk Home





Take the Empathy Quiz

Read About Empathy, Cross-Cultural Skill #1

Cross-Cultural Skill #1: Empathy

This section on The Long Walk Home is used with permission of Intercultural Press, Yarmouth, ME, and adapted from Seeing the Big Picture: Exploring American Cultures on Film, by Ellen Summerfield and Sandra Lee, 2001.


Who’s Who in the Film

Odessa Cotter (“Dessie”)

African American boycotter and maid in the Thompson home

Herbert Cotter

Odessa’s husband

Selma Cotter


Theodore Cotter

older son

Franklin Cotter

younger son

Miriam Thompson

white, Southern wife and mother in household employing Odessa

Norman Thompson

Miriam’s husband

Mary Catherine “Boo Boo”

younger daughter and narrator

Sara Thompson

older daughter

Tunker Thompson

Norman’s brother


black maid
The Long Walk Home gives us the chance to focus on one of the most important cross-cultural skills: empathy.

The ability to empathize requires imagination, knowledge, and compassion. To empathize with another person, I must recognize and remember that other people are different from myself, and I need to have some knowledge of what these differences are. My knowledge can help me try to imagine what another person is feeling in a given situation, which is not necessarily what I would be feeling in the same situation.

So an adult who sees a child lost in a grocery store can feel sympathy knowing that anyone who is lost is likely to feel confused and upset, but empathy only if the adult is able to imagine in particular what a lost child might be feeling.

An outgoing social butterfly can empathize with a shy woman sitting by herself at a party if the outgoing person can imagine what it might feel like to be shy.

Thus empathy requires that you try to look through the other’s eyes rather than through your own.

In cross-cultural terms, this means that a Chinese person, for example, can never really know what it feels like to be Mexican, but if the Chinese person studies Spanish, travels to Mexico, and has Mexican friends, she can begin to imagine a situation from the “Mexican” point of view.

As you view or think back on the film The Long Walk Home, think of a scene in which a character demonstrates empathy.


History Flash: Understanding The Long Walk Home

The 1955-56 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, which is the subject of The Long Walk Home, was described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as “one of the greatest [movements] in the history of the nation.” This boycott can be seen as both a beginning and an end. What was coming to an end was almost a century of struggle by African Americans to overthrow rigid legal and extralegal segregation. In a country founded on the principles of democracy and equality, this segregation kept blacks apart and subjugated, denied them the basic opportunities of American society, and persecuted them in the most violent ways.


Multicultural golden rule for empathizing

Treat others as you think they would like to be treated.


When the South lost the Civil War (1861-65) and two centuries of slavery came to an end, an estimated four million blacks dared to believe that a new life was possible for them. Indeed, the situation for African Americans quickly began to improve, and impressive initial strides were made. But the progress during the so-called Reconstruction period was brief. A backlash of momentous proportions on the part of primarily Southern whites, accompanied by massacres, lynchings, mutilations, rapes, and whippings, acted to replace slavery not with long-awaited equality and freedom, but with a new form of oppression—“Jim Crow” segregation.

Who was Jim Crow? Some believe he was a slave, or a soldier, and others say the label came from the saying “black as a crow.” Whatever the case, the name was first heard by the public in 1832 when a white performer danced on the stage in a comic imitation of blacks to a tune about “Jim Crow.” Soon a common character in minstrel shows, Jim Crow evolved into a synonym for the Negro, and his “comic” way of life, and by the turn of the century into a term referring to the near total separation of blacks and whites in the country.

While this system of apartheid was more open and virulent in the South, border and northern states also participated to varying degrees. Hundreds of laws, decrees, and customs kept the races apart by requiring separate restrooms, restaurants, hotels, parks, theaters, drinking fountains, railroad cars, and schools. Blacks were to be born in Negro hospitals and buried in Negro cemeteries. In South Carolina, black and white cotton-mill workers were not allowed to look out the same window; in Oklahoma there were separate telephone booths; and in Birmingham, Alabama, blacks and whites were forbidden to play chess together. In 1896, the Jim Crow doctrine was given the blessing of the Supreme Court in the infamous case of Plessy v. Ferguson. The Court decided that the states’ “separate but equal” laws did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment, despite the wording of this amendment that

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Throughout the years of Jim Crow, opposition was ongoing, strong, and creative. Distinguished black leaders—W. E. B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells, William Monroe Trotter, Mary McLeod Bethune, Marcus Moziah Garvey, Asa Philip Randolph, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Ralph J. Bunche, Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy, Charles H. Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and numerous others—devised strategies to keep the dream of equality alive against fierce opposition and the constant threat of violence by members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white militants. Moreover, countless unknown individuals stood up for their rights and worked for the cause, knowingly risking, and often sacrificing, their lives. Blacks worked through the courts, through the media, through labor unions, through national organizations, and in the military to gain a proper place in American life.

By the time of the boycott in Montgomery, a tradition of protest was well-established in black America. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., a little-known twenty-six-year-old pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, led workers, common people, professionals, students, and children in a masterfully orchestrated plan of great daring that inspired a national movement for civil rights.

It began when Rosa Parks, a 42 year-old seamstress and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) member, was arrested for refusing to yield her seat on a bus to a white man. At that time, although black patrons accounted for more than three-fourths of all riders in Montgomery, black riders were forced to sit in the back of the buses—the front rows were reserved for whites—and to give up a seat to any white person who would otherwise have to stand. What was first planned as a one-day boycott of the buses in Montgomery in protest of Rosa Parks’ arrest became a massive action that lasted over a year, from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956. As seen in The Long Walk Home, organized carpools were critical to the success of the boycott; the sponsors of the boycott provided up to twenty thousand rides daily. The Long Walk Home focuses primarily on the first stage of the boycott.

Useful Terms

African American

widely accepted term that places emphasis on the origins of most American blacks; replaces the outdated term Afro American.


widely accepted term, often interchangeable with African American, that arose in the civil rights era as an affirmation of one’s skin color (black pride, black power, “black is beautiful” slogan).


term originating with the Spanish and Portuguese colonists, from the word negro, meaning “black”; widely used in the period between the two world wars; replaced the outdated term colored, but is now outdated itself.


term dating from the earliest days of slavery; unacceptable today except in certain historical contexts and titles (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

;People of color’

term that gained popularity in the 1980s to refer to nonwhites, especially African, Native, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, and emphasize their solidarity.

The enslaved

enslaved persons, preferred by some African Americans to “slaves”, which does not convey the reality of oppression but rather suggests a permanent status or condition.


highly derogatory term when used by nonblacks; sometimes used by blacks to refer to themselves; sometimes called the “N-word.”


ideology that places greater emphasis on the role of African cultures as they have affected American and world history than does the prevalent “Eurocentric” approach.

Related Books

Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America

Bennett, Lerone, Jr., 6th ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1988.

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story

King, Martin Luther, Jr. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958.

Quiet Strength

Parks, Rosa. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It

Robinson, Jo Ann Gibson. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1987.

Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-65

Williams, Juan. New York: Penguin Books, 1987.

Related Films

Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1986)

The story of the civil rights struggle between 1954 and 1965 comes alive through news footage, photographs, and personal recollections. Winner of dozens of national awards. Six-part series (PBS Video).

Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)

Thirty years after the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, his case is reopened in a search for justice.

Mississippi Burning (1988)

The FBI investigates the disappearance of three white civil rights workers in Mississippi during the summer of 1964.

Separate But Equal (1991)

Traces events leading to landmark Supreme Court victory in the Brown v. Board of Education case. The hero, Thurgood Marshall, is played by Sidney Poitier.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Classic film about a lawyer in a small southern town who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman. Based on a novel by Harper Lee.

Rent and View The Long Walk Home

Check your local library, commercial video store, or online catalogs to order a copy.

Find Examples of Empathy in the Movie — Think About…


As you view or reflect on The Long Walk Home, think of a scene in which a character demonstrates empathy.

  • Why you think the character is able to empathize in this particular scene?
  • How the character expresses empathy with actions, words, or nonverbal behavior?
  • What else did you observe in this scene?

Diversity Basic Information


Civil Rights and Legal Issues
The Change Agents States Overview
Organizational Development and Change
Professional Development
Reaching New Audiences
Workforce Diversity
Diversity Summer Programs
Websites to Explore
Diversity Related Conference Information
Diversity Award
List of Resources Needed for Diversity CoP Website.



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Smoke Signals

With Ellen Summerfield

Smoke Signals








Take the Stereotype Quiz

Read About the Film and the Author

About the Film

Smoke Signals is the first full-length feature film to be written, produced, directed, and acted (in all major roles) entirely by Native Americans. Based loosely on the 1994 short novel by Sherman Alexie entitled The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, it won two awards when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. By all measures, it is a landmark film.

Alexie himself wanted the film to break with tradition. In an interview with the Oregonian (July 7, 1998), he says that Smoke Signals “challenges the cinematic history of Indians.” His Indian characters are virtually new to the big screen, posing a contrast to the stereotypes of Indians as “stoic and alcoholic,” as “depressed poor people.” According to Alexie, “Indians are the most joyous people in the world.” He says, “The two funniest groups of people I’ve been around have been Indians and Jews. So I guess there’s something to be said about the inherent humor of genocide.”

About the Author

One of six siblings, Sherman Alexie grew up in poverty on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State. His mother is part Spokane and a Protestant, and his father is full-blood Coeur d’Alene and a Catholic. Both of his parents were alcoholics, but his mother was able to break her addiction when her son was seven years old, and she subsequently became a tribal drug and alcohol abuse counselor.

A frail and sickly child, Alexie realized early that humor was an effective way to stave off bullies. “People like to laugh, and when you make them laugh they listen to you. That’s how I get people to listen to me now…. I’m saying things people don’t like for me to say. I’m saying very aggressive, controversial things, I suppose, about race and gender and sexuality. I’m way left [in my viewpoints], but if you say it funny, people listen. If you don’t make ‘em laugh, they’ll walk away.” (Biblio Magazine, March 1999).

Also partly to avoid getting beat up, Alexie spent a lot of time in the reservation school library. His father, who often stayed home while his mother worked, read to him and gave him books. Alexie attended junior high and high school off the reservation, in the nearby mostly white town of Reardon. Successful as a basketball player, honor society member, class president, and debater, he received a scholarship to Gonzaga University, a Jesuit College in Spokane.

But he began to drink heavily and dropped out of Gonzaga. Later he enrolled at Washington State University in Pullman. He credits Alex Kuo, his professor in a poetry-writing class, with helping him to discover his talent and profession as a writer. Several poems written in Kuo’s class ended up in his first book, The Business of Fancydancing (1992). While still living in Pullman, Alexie sobered up and became a popular figure at local poetry readings.

Since 1992, Alexie’s literary career has been remarkable. Though he considers himself primarily a poet and has published eight volumes of poetry, his widespread popularity has come from his fiction and screenplays. His works include:

Poetry, trade editions

The Business of Fancydancing

Brooklyn: Hanging Loose Press, 1992.

First Indian on the Moon

Brooklyn: Hanging Loose Press, 1993.

Old Shirts & New Skins

Los Angeles: American Indian Studies Center, UCLA, 1993.

The Summer of Black Widows

Brooklyn: Hanging Loose Press, 1996.

Poetry, limited editions

I Would Steal Horses

Niagara Falls, New York: Slipstream Publications, 1992.

Seven Mourning Songs for the Cedar Flute I Have Yet to Learn to Play

Walla Walla, Washington: Whitman College Book Arts Lab, 1994.

Water Flowing Home

Boise: Limberlost Press, 1996.

The Man Who Loves Salmon

Boise: Limberlost Press, 1998.


The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1993.

Reservation Blues

New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995.

Indian Killer

New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996.

The Toughest Indian in the World

New York: Grove Press, 2000.

Ten Little Indians

New York: Grove Press, 2003.


Smoke Signals

New York: Hyperion Press, 1998.


One Little Indian Boy

Seattle: co-published by One Reel and Sasquatch Books, 1994.

White Men Can’t Drum

New York Times Magazine, 4 October 1992.

The Warriors

Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1997.

Alexie currently lives in Seattle with his wife, Diane, of Hidatsa/Winnebago/Potawatomie descent, and his two sons. His frequent readings and literary presentations around the country are well-attended and hugely successful. He has a large and loyal following among Indians and non-Indians alike.

Related Readings

The Native Americans: An Illustrated History

Ballantine, Betty and Ian Ballantine. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1993.

Killing the White Man’s Indian: Reinventing Native Americans at the End of the Twentieth Century

Bordewich, Fergus M. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Brown, Dee. New York: Henry Holt, 1970.

500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians

Josephy, Alvin M. New York: Newmarket Press, 1994.

Prison Writings: My Life Is the Sun Dance

Peltier, Leonard. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

Related Films

Incident at Oglala (1992)

Traces the dramatic events that occurred on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s, focusing on the trial and imprisonment of Leonard Peltier. Provides fascinating insights into this period in history. Documentary, directed by Michael Apted (Facets).

Powwow Highway (1989)

Offbeat tale of two Indian friends on the road to New Mexico in a dilapidated Buick. Based on David Seals’ novel of the same title. Directed by Jonathan Wacks.

The West (1996)

Nine-part series about the American West, told through compelling firsthand accounts. Documentary series, directed by Stephen Ives and produced by Ken Burns (PBS video).

Where the Spirit Lives (1989)

A painful story of a brother and sister kidnapped from their homes by government that brings to life the suffering caused by the removal of Indian children to boarding schools. Directed by Bruce Pittman.

Related Websites

AIM (American Indian Movement)

The Index of Native American Sources on the Internet

Native American Rights Fund

The Native Web

Sherman Alexie’s homepage

Rent and View Smoke Signals

Check your local or university library, commercial video store, or online sources to order a copy.

Play with the Idea of Stereotypes



Find clips in the movie where Sherman Alexie has the characters play with the typical stereotypes of Indians. Join in the discussion with Faye and Ellen to talk about these stereotypes.







Discussion Between Fay and Ellen

Note: To help make Popcorn and a Movie more interesting and interactive, Ellen Summerfield, creator of Popcorn and a Movie for this site, asked a colleague and Klamath tribal member, Fay Hurtado, to serve as our consultant and “cultural insider” for the film Smoke Signals. During the month of June, they e-mailed back and forth from Ellen’s home in McMinnville, Oregon, to Fay’s home on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon.


Hi Fay,

Before we begin our discussion of Smoke Signals, could you tell me a little about your Indian heritage?




Hi Ellen,

I am an enrolled member of the Klamath Tribe located in Southern Oregon. Although I was born in Klamath Falls, shortly after the Klamath Tribe was terminated we moved to Warm Springs. My grandmother and my great grandfather are from the Warm Springs Tribe, and I married and built my home here in Warm Springs. Although I am a member of the Klamath Tribe a lot of my values and beliefs have come thru the teaching of the Warm Springs people. (Hope that sounds okay! I had to look up the meaning of heritage, in Indian Country we say “where you from?”) So may I ask you where you from?




Hi Fay,

Sure. I’m from the East Coast. My great-grandparents were Eastern European Jews who immigrated to Baltimore, Maryland, where both of my parents were born. I was also born in Maryland. I’ve moved around a lot, and my husband and I finally landed here in Oregon twenty years ago. Just last year, my mother moved here from the East Coast to join us.

OK, now to the film. My first question to you resulted from a wonderful evening I spent in Portland, Oregon, last week, listening to a reading by Sherman Alexie, who, as you know, write the screenplay for the film. Alexie was in town to promote his latest book, Ten Little Indians.

In the question and answer session of his presentation, Alexie was asked about how Indians liked Smoke Signals, and he said, “My tribe loves the hell out of that movie.” He also told us that “Indians who hate my books love that movie.” So I was wondering if you loved the movie (I seem to remember you said you did) and, if so, why?




Hi Ellen,

Glad to hear you had a good time listening to Sherman.

I enjoyed the movie because it was the first time I saw things in a movie that I might see at home. Some of the things that people saw as comedy are actually things we see and live with on a daily basis. Remember the girls with the car that only drove backwards? Their transmission was out. Those are things we see here and think nothing about because our laws are such that we have young people driving without licenses and people driving with no windshields in their cars, or no forward gears in their car. Those are the Rez cars. The car never leaves the Rez but it allows people to get around within our small community. I guess that is the reason that I liked this movie.




Hi Fay,

That’s interesting to me to hear about the Rez cars and the fact that young people drive without licenses because of different laws on the reservation.

A different question I had is about the humor in the film. On the vhs cover, humor is mentioned at least four times. We’re told to “celebrate the comedy that had audiences and critics cheering.” The film is called a “rare and entertaining comic treat” and is quoted as being a “bittersweet comedy…funny and stylish” (LA Times). It’s also quoted as being “very funny!” (Good Morning America).

This seems to me to miss the point of the film. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s not a “comedy” to me, and that’s not what should be emphasized. What do you think?




Hi Ellen,

Some of the things that Sherman showed the world about Indian country he chose to do through comedy. Or that’s how it comes out! When we see things happen that are not the norm or something that we consider unusual, it’s considered funny before anything else. Think about how the dominant society would react to things that happen in the movie? Would they laugh at the situation or become angry for the person being stupid, or just what would they do? And even saying it is a comedy in Indian country is okay. Comedy to us is not belittling it, or saying it is not as good as a documentary. Was that what you felt it was doing to say it was a comedy?

Waiting to hear from you!




Hello Fay,

I’ve been thinking about what you said about comedy. To me, the film is much more than a comedy. Yes, it’s very funny, but it’s also very serious. There’s a great deal of pain that is dealt with through humor. But the pain is the overriding emotion for me. I think of Victor and his suffering as a little boy when his father leaves. To me the film is about Victor’s journey to make peace with his father, which of course is very powerful. I also think of his father’s pain at knowing what he did and having to live with it. And of Victor’s mother, who had to lose her husband to save her son.

All of this gives me a picture of Indian country in which life brings sadness and grief, but where people show incredible resilience and humanity. So I guess I would call the film a “drama,” even though the word itself isn’t that important. It’s just that I don’t want the film to be advertised on the cover in a way that might be misinterpreted as something light, even silly or superficial.




Hi Ellen,

But, out of what you said, is Indian? I see things in there that you cannot see. What you explain about a suffering little boy could be about any culture, so what makes this movie different? Are you relating the suffering to Indian? If you took what you wrote about Victor and placed it somewhere by itself, would your reader know that it was about an Indian boy? If not, then I don’t think you are getting the right picture of Indian country. That’s what I enjoyed about the movie. Sure the story line is very familiar, it could be Orphan Annie or some other film of that nature. But what makes it Indian, that’s what I enjoyed. That is why Sherman said his tribe loved the hell out of it.

Does that make any sense?




Good morning Fay,

I think you caught me. Your question is right on. What is “Indian” about the drama I described? Well, I have to admit that probably it’s my stereotypes. This is embarrassing. I’m sorry but I have to tell you the truth if Popcorn is going to be worth anything, so please bear with me. I think it’s the poverty and alcoholism. All the negative stuff.

But, like you wrote, there’s poverty and alcoholism elsewhere, and non-Indian fathers leave families. So are you saying that what makes this film Indian is the slant on life, the way of dealing with things that is more accepting and humorous (humorous in an “Indian” way) rather than getting mad and trying to change everything like non-Indians might do? Please help, I don’t know if I’m getting what you are explaining. Is this particular attitude toward life part of what you said you see that I don’t see?

I think I need to watch the film again!




Hi Ellen,

Sorry to make things so confusing for you! Sometimes I can see and feel the confusion and that makes it very hard for me to stay in the Indian and not just do what I have been trained to do (give you the easy out and just agree with whatever is bringing the confusion). But I have come to realize that there is not growth for the other person when I do that. Sometimes I want to do that also because I get lazy too and don’t want to put the work into it that it takes (just letting you know so that if it does happen, maybe you will see it in my writing, that you can hold me accountable to the commitment that I have made with you).

Sorry, because my intent was not to embarrass you. Most people either put us in a place of feeling sorry for us, or hate what they do not understand. The idea of “the slant of life” makes sense to me. What people usually want to see is the negative stuff or the magical mystical stuff. Those seem to be the only two categories that the dominant society puts the Native American. Do you see anything different in the movie when you take out the poverty and alcoholism? What about the characters? Do they all seem normal to you? If not, who are the normal ones, or are they all not average or normal? Do they interact with each other as the dominant society does? Those are the things to me that make this movie good or why Indian people like the movie. Like I said before, the story line is somewhat familiar, the thing that separates it for me is the details of the story line. They are very subtle and if you do not know any Indians or have never been around them, you might not even catch them or be aware of them. That’s what I meant about things I see that maybe you do not. Because our beliefs and values are different I would not even call it an attitude. Attitude to me is something that is very much on the surface, things I can change by what company I am in. What I mean about the slant on life goes deeper than that. It is a way of being that we are or are not aware of.

Hang in there! Fay

Looking forward to hearing from you again.



Hi Fay,

What you wrote yesterday is very helpful. Thank you. I will try to understand better the “way of being” you referred to. I plan to watch the film again this weekend to try to see it in a different light.

Another question I’d like to ask you is which scene or scenes in Smokes Signals stand out for you? I suspect that we will choose different scenes, so it should be interesting to compare.




Hello Ellen,

I am having trouble with this… Trying to decide on a scene is a little harder than I thought. What the Indians liked about the movie was the similarities to our way of life. The slang language “enit”, “aye” and such are very common to the Rez. That is the way we talk and make fun. The main point Sherman is trying to make is at the end of the movie, which I am sure that we all understood, but in trying to pick something that is Indian, you could actually pick any scene and go from there.

One thing off the top of my head, why is it so important to be able to make the best fry bread? That is common throughout the movie. There are comments throughout the movie like that that we understand. The comment about going to a foreign country when leaving the reservation, that is common. Anyway, let me know what you think and maybe we can go from there. Hope you have a great 4th!




Hi Fay,

This weekend I’m thinking about July 4th in terms of the film. It’s important, I think, that Sherman chose that day. I’m wondering if it has a particular meaning for you. Do you and your family and friends on the reservation celebrate it? If you do, is it more in an ironic way rather than a real holiday?

I’d love to know more about the slang you mentioned. I don’t even know what enit and aye mean. How do you use them to make fun?

Also, could you please explain why it’s so important to make the best fry bread? I thought that was sort of like me saying that “my mom makes the best apple pies,” but I wasn’t sure if that’s the meaning.

Hope you’re enjoying at least a long weekend and look forward to hearing from you,




Hi Ellen,

The 4th is kind of celebrated, because we like fireworks, but as for the meaning no we do not celebrate it as an Independence Day. (It’s really only White People’s Independence Day.) For us it is a paid holiday (day off with pay) and I guess ironic rather than a real holiday. That is the same with Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, Washington’s Birthday & Labor Day—we all joke about celebrating it. They don’t have any real meaning to us other than bad news for our people.

This one I might have to think a little about, off the top of my head, enit is used kind of as a question that is made after a statement you make. Rather than saying “that dog is pretty, don’t you think?” you might say, “that dog is pretty, enit.” That’s how the word is used in language structure, but we are never looking for an answer to the question. There never has to be a response and usually never is. There are other ways the word is used but they are difficult to put into terms that would easily be understood.

“Aye” is more or less an expression of something joking. When you are teasing someone, you might make a teasing statement and then say “aye” at the end of it laughingly. It is funny but for the most part all reservation Indians are aware of the use no matter what Rez you are from.

In terms of Smoke Signals I guess “the best fry bread” would be the same as apple pie. From a country that has been oppressed for so long and has lived in poverty for so long, what you can “do” and who you “be” tends to have greater significance than what you drive and what you own or the career you have. Our political structure is based traditionally by what family you come from and what you “do” and “be” for the people rather than for yourself.

Well, I hope some of this makes sense and you get something out of it. Sometimes I wonder if any of this makes any sense because it is not something that you can really use for any purpose but maybe for your own knowledge. Just remember once you seem to get a handle on it and kind of understand it some other Indian is going to come along and say “no that’s not how it is for us.” Just as you have experienced even in the dominant culture, some don’t know the definition of culture and might answer you differently.

Hope you had a great 4th of July. What does that mean to you anyway? Do you celebrate it with any particular meaning or is it just a day of leisure for you too?

I sure enjoy the emails, they make me think! (Maybe you will see some of the way we talk written into our emails, I have been trying to respond the way I would at home and not make it sound like the way I am supposed to write.)




Hi Fay,

About the 4th. I’m not sure how much meaning it really has for white people or other non-Indians. It’s a paid holiday, like you said, and people usually get together with family and friends for a picnic or barbeque. And they set off fireworks or go to town to see them. I guess for a lot of people there’s some patriotism involved, but I’m not patriotic myself when it comes to things like holidays.

More later, Ellen

The Change Agents States

The Change Agent States
The Change Agent States project, initiated by the Cooperative Extension Service, is a catalytic step in beginning the transformation of the Land Grant system. It is a consortium of land grant institutions in fourteen states bringing the needed technical skills and training to each of the member states. Through this multistate approach, the consortium is developing successful models and systemic change strategies to support greater diversity and welcoming climates throughout the system.

The goals

  1. to build the capacity of the Land Grant system to function inclusively and effectively in a multicultural world; and
  2. to set standards and implement a vision for supporting healthy, thriving, culturally diverse communities through Extension, research and academic programs.

Change Agents States Overview

Workforce Diversity

Workforce Diversity

The Workforce Diversity page includes strategies, techniques and resources for attracting, hiring and retaining a diverse workforce. Information will focus on methods of attracting diverse candidates, developing a viable search process and creating and maintaining a positive workplace climate.

Featured Items

Workplace Diversity_ A Social-Ecological Framework and Policy Implications.pdf Abstract: The diversification of the global workforce brings both challenges and opportunities. We focus on diversity defined by membership in traditionally underrepresented groups. To harness the power of diversity, organizations must: increase representation of diverse individuals throughout the organizational hierarchy, attend to the social processes that emerge once diversity is present, and foster an organizational climate that supports the full inclusion of diverse individuals. We review dynamics at multiple levels of analysis that affect organizations in these three realms. Policy recommendations are grounded in the following ecological principles: (1) organizational issues are nested within multiple levels of context, (2) any organizational event can have reverberating effects throughout the system, (3) people’s experiences of events shape their reactions and the impact of practices on varied groups shapes organizational consequences, and (4) people are continually adapting to one another and to organizational resources and requirements.

An interesting look at gender, racial, and class diversity within environmental organizations: The Disturbing Lack of D…pdf   The full study can be found here: diversity in environmental organizations.pdf

Why do we see a an attrition of women in biological sciences but not in the medical field? This article re-examines some of the reasons hypothesized as to why less women are seen in scientific research fields:  Attrition of Women in the Biological Sciences.pdf

The following study is two-fold. The first part gives insights into organizational approaches to diversity and managing  a culturally diverse workplace. The second part introduces a “Diversity Perspective Questionnaire” that measures an organization’s approach to diversity. Managing a culturally diverse workforce.pdf

Learn how even in workplaces that seek to be inclusive, LGBT employees are affected by a “culture of silence”. sound of silence in inclusive organizations.pdf

There have been studies done on what has been termed the “bamboo ceiling” which describes the hinderance of Asian Americans’ advancement in the workplace.  Many are also familiar with the “glass ceiling” effect describing the same phenomenon in women.  However, there has not been many studies that have looked into the intersection between the two. Read the article hereHitting the Ceiling.pdf to learn more about barriers specific to Asian American Women

“Do Millennials Really Want Their Bosses to Call Their Parents?” An interesting article on an often overlooked aspect of workforce diversity, generation. http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/04/do-millennials-really-want-their-bosses-to-call-their-parents/

Workforce Bullying http://stopworkplacebullies.wordpress.com/

In order to ensure that work workplaces are inclusive, faculty may want to consider reflections in lieu of prayers when they are asked to pray at a meeting.    This way each person, regardless of  religion will feel comfortable in the workplace.  http://extension.missouri.edu/staff/diversity-prayer.aspx

Non Tenure Track Women Faculty: Opening the Door Non Tenure Track Women Faculty.pdf

Federal Agencies to Develop a Strategic Plan to Insure a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce:   http://1.usa.gov/qzJL5o   mmmmm

Share your comments on our CoP Blog http://extensiondeicop.blogspot.com/

Resources for Recruiting Women and Minority Faculty Candidates:http://bit.ly/o5oygJ

Avoid the Craziness When It’s Time to Hire

Where to Advertise to Attract Underrepresented Professionals

Sample Diversity-Related Qualification Statements:http://bit.ly/psiWmm

Equity and Social Justice Diversity Links


Related Links

Challenges and strategies








Diversity Articles



Achieving Workforce Diversity




Current Job Postings




Search Committees

Workforce Diversity Section Editor: open


The Language of Diversity

The Language of Diversity
The language of diversity is an evolving one that requires awareness, understanding and skill much in the same way as other areas of diversity competencies. Language provides a means for communication among and between individuals and groups. Language serves as a vehicle for expressing thoughts and feelings. And when it comes to diversity, language can be a bridge for building relationships, or a tool for creating and maintaining divisions across differences. Having a common language for talking about and across difference is essential for breaking down divisions and working towards achieving understanding and partnership. In developing a common language around diversity it is important that language be affirming and not about creating blame, guilt or pity.

Historically our challenge with language as it relates to diversity is that it has often been used as a tool of oppression for the express purpose of establishing and perpetuating systems of dominance and hierarchies between and among groups. As a result, language has in many instances throughout our society’s history, served to advance the status of certain groups while relegating other groups to a status of inferiority. Early examples of the use of language for this purpose includes the designation of Native Americans as “savages” and “primitive” in contrast to European settlers as “civilized”; the use of the term “African slaves” to passively describe an inhumane system of forced bondage that “enslaved” the free people of Africa; diminishing the status of adult women through the active use of the term “girl”; the use of the term “America” to specifically refer to the United States as opposed to the whole Western Hemisphere that makes up America. When used in this manner, language has systematically helped to minimize and vilify certain groups and justify subsequent patterns of exclusion, mistreatment and exploitation.

While our intentions in the use of language when interacting with or referencing groups may not be as ill-spirited and biased as the examples given above, when we are not conscious of the power of words and labels, our impact can be just as detrimental. For example, when we hear individuals struggle with finding the right terminology for referencing particular groups of people (i.e. African Americans, gay and lesbian, differently abled, etc), they routinely express their frustration by stating that the people from these groups… “can’t make up their minds about what they want to be called” or that they need to “figure out a name once and for all”. Unfortunately, more often than not, the individuals demanding that these groups “make up their mind” are not members of these groups and are usually in a position of relevant dominant status. While the desire of these individuals to achieve clarity in these instances is well intentioned, their behaviors reflect an assumed position of superiority. This false sense of superiority becomes even more pronounced when these individuals take it upon themselves to define the group without input from that group. As a result, members of these groups lose their right to define and name themselves on their own terms.

Being aware of the power of our language is not about being politically correct. It is about treating people with respect and dignity and increasing awareness. In an article entitled, “Words are potent weapons for all causes, good or bad”, Kathy Lechman, Leader, Diversity Development, Ohio State University Extension, shares examples of some common statements that many of us have repeatedly heard throughout our lives. While many of these are seemingly innocuous, others are blatantly derogatory and offensive. Whatever the case these statements convey beliefs and attitudes that ultimately take away from the dignity and respect that should be afforded all individuals.

 I went to the car dealership and really “Jewed them down”.  This is America, everyone can achieve if they really wanted to, and people on welfare are just lazy and out for a free ride.  Why do those people keep causing problems and asking for special treatment?  The only people who live in trailer parks are poor white trash.  People from small towns are stupid rednecks.  I am not prejudiced; some of my best friends are .  I do not have a problem with gay or lesbian people, as long as they don’t try to convert me.  I don’t see color, we are all the same.  Young people are nothing but trouble.  Fat people are lazy and lack discipline.  Look at that poor crippled person.  You are such an Indian giver.  Get your cotton-picking hands off of that!  Generation Xer’s have no work ethic and do not know the meaning of the word loyalty.  Old people should have their driver’s licenses taken away because they cannot drive.  You are so retarded.

In her fact sheet, The Evolving Language of Diversity, retired Senior Extension Associate (Cornell Cooperative Extension), Kathy Castania, provides us with some wonderful insights as to the power that words have to shape our thoughts, convey beliefs and perpetuate attitudes about groups. The fact sheet provides for understanding the challenges that come with creating a common language around diversity that is both affirming and empowering. The article provides an excellent historical overview that can help us to contextualize the evolution of language around diversity. Beyond providing a historical framework, Kathy also identifies some common pitfalls and misused terms across multiple dimensions of diversity including gender, abilities, class, sexual orientation, etc. Alternative strategies that can be quickly incorporated into our day-to-day interactions with colleagues and program audiences are presented throughout the article, along with resources for additional exploration and ongoing development making this fact sheet an indispensable tool for advancing the work of Extension in increasingly diverse environments.

Websites of Interest:

http://www.joanwink.com/pub-those.html Excellent web site developed by a professor and her students documenting their experience addressing issues of multi-culturalism and how each person in that class had learned to fear or hate “those people”.

http://omega.cohums.ohio-state.edu/hyper-lists/classics-l/01-05-01/0030.html Interesting discussion of the term “red neck” and what it means today

http://metamoomoo.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/23095 Provides a detailed history of the term “redneck” and a definition.

http://www.angelfire.com/rebellion/personpaper/ Interesting use of satire to demonstrate a point about language.

http://www.asante.net/articles/racist-language.html -Article by Molefi Kete Asante discussing the importance of language and the power of words.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0%2C3604%2C628596%2C00.html The author provides an example of the use of the “N” word and his reaction to it. This was written in the wake of Nigger the Book by Randall Kennedy.

http://www.rebeccamorgan.com/articles/mgmt/mgmt2.html Article on the power of words with examples of how we can harm others without meaning to. This is an excellent resource and reminder of our power.
Author: Eduardo González, Jr.
State Diversity Specialist
Cornell University Cooperative Extension
[1]Eduardo Gonzalez


[ http://www.aacu.org/ocww/:

Skills for Success

Skills For Success
As Extension strives to meet the needs of an ever-increasingly diverse society, it must do so by recruiting, hiring and retaining staff that possess the attitude, competencies and qualities that enable them to effectively work across differences. They must have the needed skills for success. As a result, well-thought out recruitment, hiring and retention strategies that attract, support and sustain individuals with a mature diversity lens are a critical component of creating an environment that supports and promotes pluralism and diversity1.

Today, most job postings and descriptions clearly identify the ability to show respect for differences in backgrounds, lifestyles, viewpoints, and needs in reference to areas such as ethnicity, race, gender, creed, and sexual orientation as being essential to the position and the organization. While articulating these as desirable qualities and behaviors is an important first step in recruitment, the challenge often arises in assessing the level of skill and competency during the screening and interview process.

The accompanying materials, Skills for Success©, developed by the Office of Human Resources at Cornell University, can serve a template for developing recruitment materials and interviewing questions that result in attracting and hiring individuals that bring a diverse perspective and are supportive of diversity. Skills for Success©, consist of the following materials:

Staff Skills for Success (pdf) – A broad overview of the skills essential for individual and organizational success and examples of demonstrated behaviors in these areas

Interviewing Candidates for Skills for Success (Short Version – pdf) – A short version of interview questions that address the skill areas

Interviewing Candidates for Skills for Success (Long Version – pdf) – A longer version of targeted interview questions that probe the breadth and depth of candidate’s skill level.

Characteristics of Performance Levels – pdf – A matrix that outlines a continuum of the characteristics of individual performance levels in the skill areas identified.

Staff Performance Dialogue Form (pdf) – A standard form to be used as a tool for conducting employee review, staff development and performance improvement discussions.

Each skill area identified in Skills for Success©, can lend itself to diversity and pluralism. The skills, behaviors and interview questions under the heading of inclusiveness specifically and intentionally address and provide a language for articulating desired diversity competencies in recruitment and a process for assessing them in hiring.

In addition to addressing the areas of recruitment and hiring, Skills for Success©, also provides resources for the ongoing support, development and retention of staff. As with other competencies, there is a need for ongoing assessment and development on inclusiveness. The Staff Performance Dialogue Form and the Characteristics of Performance Levels can serve as tools for creating organizational expectations around diversity and pluralism, as well as a means for supporting staff in assessing their skill level and identifying ongoing professional development needs in this area.

For additional information and case studies on Cornell Cooperative Extension’s efforts on staffing for diversity check out: http://www.joe.org/joe/1998february/a1.html

By Eduardo González, Jr., Diversity Specialist, Cornell Migrant Program

1The concepts of “diversity” and “pluralism” as defined in Pathway to Diversity: Strategic Plan for the Cooperative Extension System’s Emphasis on Diversity (1991) are: Diversity is differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practice, and other human attributes. Pluralism is an organizational culture that incorporates mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork, and productivity among people who are diverse in the dimensions of human differences listed above as diversity.