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.

Workforce Bullying

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.

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:   mmmmm

Share your comments on our CoP Blog

Resources for Recruiting Women and Minority Faculty Candidates:

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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: 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”. Interesting discussion of the term “red neck” and what it means today Provides a detailed history of the term “redneck” and a definition. Interesting use of satire to demonstrate a point about language. -Article by Molefi Kete Asante discussing the importance of language and the power of words. 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. 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



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:

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.

Professional Development

Professional Development

The Professional Development page is dedicated to creating a language around diversity in its broadest sense and recognizing, celebrating and appreciating difference while supporting all functions related to the creation of a diverse workforce and programs to reach diverse audiences.

Programming for Clientele with Developmental DisabilitiesFeatured Items

How to Register for “Communicating across Cultures” Course  ENROLLMENT FLYER Course.docx

Upcoming Webinars

Previous Webinars:

The Contribution of 4-H to Social Capital and Social Justic

California 4-H Embracing Diversity & Fostering Inclusion – Not an easy taskLet’s Talk about Race

Programming for Clientele with Developmental Disabilities

Three Tools for Engaging Latino Youth Populations and Place

Engaging Seasonal/ Migrant Farm Workers

4H Futures Program

Understanding Social Identity Development

Immigrants and Cooperative Extension: Opportunity and Challenge

Improving Extension Accessibility

Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Webinar

Strategies for Effectively Communicating through an Interpreter

Moving Beyond Translation: Integrating Language Access into Program Planning

Volunteering in under-resourced communities: Challenges for urban Master Gardeners

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Working with LGBTQ Clients

How to Facilitate Difficult Conversations

Land Grant Impacts Database Informational Webinar

Structural Racism and Food Inequity

Digital Commerce: Electronic Buying and Selling of Goods

CoP General Meetings (Recordings):

January 29, 2018

November 27, 2017

October 23, 2017

September 25, 2017

April 24, 2017

March 20, 2017

January 30, 2017

October 24, 2016

September 26, 2016 

March 28, 2016

February 29, 2016

November 23, 2015

October 26, 2015

The Language of Diversity

Exploring Tribal Leadership: Understanding and Working With Tribal People (pdf)

Diversity Paragraphs (pdf)


The Winning 4-H Plan

Educators from Ohio have developed an awareness program for 4-H educators, volunteers, parents, and youth in which the participants experience everyday situations that individuals with special needs face daily. Called the Winning 4-H Plan, the program aims to create a positive environment for diverse special-needs youth to help them reach their fullest potential as capable, competent, caring, and contributing citizens.

Youth with disabilities have the right to enjoy extracurricular activities such as 4-H. Efforts through 4-H programming and volunteer training need to ensure that children with disabilities have broad access to educational opportunities available through the hands-on learning experiences that 4-H provides. “All youth, regardless of their physical and mental conditions, need and deserve the opportunity to be involved in activities unique to their own special talents and interest. They also need to be integrated, to the greatest extent possible, with other children with and without disabilities in preparation for adulthood in a world with great diversity. For this reason, adults working with organizations such as 4-H should be well informed about disabilities and their implication for involvement of youth” (Tormoehlen and Field 1994). Volunteers need to understand that in addition to simply including youth with special needs, they will need to make adaptations and promote empathy among members and adults. “Inclusion means that people with disabilities have the same opportunities for involvement in meaningful and satisfying experiences as afforded other segments of the population” (Stumpf et al. 2002).

Use of the 4-H PetPALS curriculum, which challenges participants to experience what it is like not to be able see clearly, hear normally, or have all tactile sensations, has helped create an awareness of special-needs conditions that talking and lecture do not. Participants in the Winning 4-H Plan undergo similar experiences through a series of hands-on work stations that emphasize the challenges that special-needs individuals face every day. This training helps both adults and youth be better prepared to adapt project materials and experiences and provide support to accommodate special-needs youth in traditional 4-H club programs and activities. Through this sensitivity training, 4-H youth and adult volunteers gain a better understanding of the challenges special-needs youth face.

The goal of the Winning 4-H Plan is to better accommodate special-needs 4-H participants across the country while providing resources for professionals, volunteers, and parents in the Cooperative Extension System so that they can create the best possible experiences for special-needs youth. “When asked specifically about people who have special challenges, the majority of Extension professional agreed or strongly agreed that learning to relate effectively with physically challenged people (68.4%) and mentally challenged people (56.3%) should be an important part of 4-H” (Ingram 1999).

The Winning 4-H Plan helps create a culture in the 4-H movement within the Cooperative Extension System that embraces all youth and helps ensure that youth are involved in activities and programs that have a step-by-step progression of challenges so that successes can be celebrated along the way. 4-H embraces everyone and continues to strive for widespread involvement and inclusion neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city, and county by county.


Coleman, B.M. and Booth, N. “4-H and the Handicapped: Volunteers’ Perception,” Journal of Extension, January 1984 volume 22, Number 1.

Ingram, P.D. (1999) “Attitudes of Extension Professionals toward Diversity Education in 4-H Programs,” Journal of Extension. Available at

Small Animal Interaction Programs, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio and H. M. Suthers-McCabe, D.V.M., Associate Professor, Extension Specialist Human-Companion Animal Interaction, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia, copyright 2002, The Ohio State University Extension, pages 83 to 107 and appendices pages 183 to 211.

Stumpf, M., Henderson, K., Luken, K., Bianleschki, D., and Casey II, M. (2002) “4-H Programs with a Focus on Including Youth with Disabilities,” Journal of Extension. Available at

Tormoehlen, Rand and Field,W.E. (1994) “A Perfect Fit: Involving Youth with Disabilities in 4-H,” Journal of Extension. Available at

Organizational Development and Change

Organizational Development and Change

The Organizational Development and Change page contains models, resources, and best practices for organizational change. As we develop our capacity to serve a diverse society, we must also evolve our Extension system to one which will nurture and sustain our efforts to be effective in honoring the differences among us.

Featured Item

Preventing violence against women and girls.pdf  Abstract: Men’s violence against women and girls is a blunt expression of the pervasive gender inequalities that characterize countries across the globe. Men’s violence against women both expresses and maintains men’s power over women. Indeed, rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence have been seen as paradigmatic expressions of the operation of male power over women (Miller and Biele 1993, p. 53). Whether in workplaces or elsewhere, efforts to build gender equality must reckon with men’s violence against women.

A meta-analytic evaluation of diversity training outcomes.pdf  This meta-analysis used theory and research on diversity, attitudes, and training to
examine potential differential effects on affective-based, cognitive-based, and skill-based outcomes.

Organizational Performance Consequences of Age Diversity.pdf Take a look at the effects of Diversity-Friendly HR policies and top managers’ negative age stereotypes.

Organizational Climate and Culture Review.pdf  Here is a review outlining organizational climate and culture theory

The Path from Exclusive Club to Inclusive Organization: A Developmental Process  Learn how you can move your organization from being monocultural, to one that is inclusive of all people: The Path from Exclusive Club.pdf

Navigating Difference: Development and Implementation of a Successful Cultural Competency Training for Extension and Outreach Professionals  Learn how the Washington State University Extension addresses quality standards for successful implementation of diversity training models here: Navigating Difference.pdf

We all know that working in teams is beneficial to achieving performance goals. However, diverse teams can also bring its own unique challenges. For more information on how to develop efficient and effective teams, please see the attached article:

Developing diverse teams to improve performance in the organizational setting.pdf

Diversity Not Just a Human Resources Function Anymore

Making Excellence Inclusive is designed to help colleges and universities fully integrate their diversity and educational quality efforts and embed them into the core of academic mission and institutional functioning. Through this initiative, the Association of American Colleges and Universities re-envisions diversity and inclusion as a multi-layered process through which we achieve excellence in learning; research and teaching; student development; institutional functioning; local and global community engagement; workforce development; and more.

Organizational Climate: Conducting a Climate Assessment (pdf)

Source: Susan Rankin, Principal & Senior Research Associate, Rankin & Associates, Consulting. Conducting a climate assessment is one of the first steps toward creating an effective multicultural organization.
Assessing Organizational Climate – Part I (pdf)
Assessing Organizational Climate – Part II (pdf)
PowerPoint Presentation given by Susan Rankin at CASD/CASE 2005 National Diversity Conference
Authenticity in a Community Setting — A Tool for Self-Reflection and Change
Equity and Social Justice Diversity LinksOrganizational Development and Change by Claude Faucheux, Gilles Amado and Andre Laurent, 1982.

The Management of Innovation by Tom E. Burns and G. M. Salker, 1961

Exploring…research, paradigms and best practices, challenges and opportunities connections between organizational change and reaching diverse audiences

Organizational Change Section Editor:
Teresa Curtis
University of Wisconsin-Madison
(608) 262-3427

Migrant Farm Workers: Our Nation's Invisible Population

migrant farm workers photo

By Eduardo González, Jr., State Diversity Specialist, Cornell University Cooperative Extension Farm workers in United States

Between 1 and 3 million migrant farm workers leave their homes every year to plant, cultivate, harvest, and pack fruits, vegetables and nuts in the U.S. Although invisible to most people, the presence of migrant farm workers in many rural communities throughout the nation is undeniable, since hand labor is still necessary for the production of the blemish-free fruits and vegetables that consumers demand

Who are Migrant Farm workers?

Migrant farm workers are predominantly Mexican-born sons, husbands, and fathers who leave what is familiar and comfortable with the hopes and dreams of making enough money to support their families back home; feed themselves; purchase land and a home; and – like many immigrants who came before them – ultimately return to their homeland. While others come from countries such as Jamaica, Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other states in the United States their aspirations remain the same. They are young, averaging about 31 years of age. Some arrive as single men, while others leave their families behind while they seek work and others travel and work with their families. For those who travel without their families, once they realize that they will need to maintain their U.S. earning capacity, they would much rather have their families settle with them in the U.S. More than half of all farm workers – 52 of every 100 – are unauthorized workers with no legal status in the United States.

Many farm workers arrive with solid agricultural skills firmly grounded in practical experience and working knowledge of agriculture. This expertise is complemented by a strong work ethic, deeply rooted in their commitment to provide for their families or make it on their own. This is reflected in their willingness to make considerable sacrifices in order to guarantee a more prosperous future for their extended families, their children and/or their siblings. These sacrifices range from separation from their countries of origins, families, and what is familiar to learning to navigate a foreign land where little is known about them and whose customs, language, foods, and ways of life are different from what they know. In many instances this new place brings about feelings of alienation and isolation. No longer is La Plaza – a central gathering place in town for community interaction and fellowship in their countries of origin – available to them. Instead loneliness creeps in for many as they are limited to the boundaries of the farm due in part to limited access to transportation and also to their lack of legal status which reduce their access to neighborhood businesses, services and community activities in general. Fear of being picked up by Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) due to their undocumented status causes many farm workers to go into hiding in the communities that they work and live in and further contributes to the isolation that farm workers routinely experience. So in many ways, Migrant farm workers work in settings that do not mirror those of the majority of the nation’s working populace.

In spite of these challenges, for many the hopes and dreams of making more money in the U.S than in their countries of origin is enough to drive them to make this enormous sacrifice. Many experience great pride in the contribution that they make to society through their labor for they realize their work feeds the world. For these farm workers there is also a sense of accomplishment in their ability to support their families in purchasing homes or going to school in their home country. For others, their hopes and dreams do not always materialize to the degree envisioned and promised with 61 percent of U.S. farm workers’ income falling below the poverty level. A median income of less than $7500 a year leave many feeling trapped with no other viable options outside of formwork and with the shame and indignity of returning to their homelands with less than what they came.

Why Do They Come

A host of push-pull factors contribute to the overwhelmingly immigrant farm worker labor pool. Some push factors in farm workers’ countries of origin are economic instability, political unrest, population growth, land reform shortcomings in rural areas, and scarce employment opportunities. Push factors that impact immigration patterns vary from country to country and from individual to individual. This is to say that the circumstances that cause an individual to emigrate from Colombia, South America may be different from those that cause an indigenous person from the states of Michoacán, Oaxaca, or Guanajuato in Mexico to come to the United States. A Colombian immigrant fleeing political persecution and civil unrest seeks asylum as a political refugee, while the indigenous Mexican treks across the desert into the US in search of work and income to support their family back home or just to be able to eat.

Pull factors within the United States include the ongoing desire for a low cost labor force to fill jobs no longer attractive to US citizens due to low pay, limited or no benefits and/or substandard work conditions. Other more direct pull factors have included federally enacted and administered farm labor programs such as the Bracero contract labor program that recruited workers from Mexico to harvest crops in the Southwestern United States from 1942 – 1964. Today, larger numbers of Mexican farm workers have moved into other regions of the country, including the Northeast, through a similar farm labor contract program known as the H-2A agricultural guest worker program enacted by Congress in 1952 and more widely used when the Bracero program ended in 1964.

Immigration Status

One of the key dynamics that detrimentally impacts the lives of migrant farm workers is their lack of legal status within the U.S. Unlike other immigrant groups that came before them these workers have not been granted legal status to live in the U.S. The undocumented status of an overwhelming number of farm workers has given way to increasing injustice and abuse against them. While not always making headlines, reports of injustice and abuse against farm workers abound including those of opportunistic crew leaders, substandard housing, violence against farm workers by community members of the dominant culture, exclusion from labor laws, inadequate housing, pesticide violations, and the inferior education of children of farm workers. Out of fear of displacement and deportation, farm workers often remain unable to protest inadequate conditions or report employer’s violation of labor, health or safety laws to state authorities. Furthermore, despite their overwhelming representation and contribution to the agricultural community, farm workers lack political leverage, therefore remaining a disenfranchised population. This lack of legal status sets the stage for farm workers’ lack of voice, agency and advocacy – in essence it creates their invisibility.

The Changing Face of Immigrants

As we continue to grow as a nation of immigrants, we need to make an extraordinary effort to understand farm workers in their full context. The legacy and lingering effects of living in a divided society have left us with incomplete, inaccurate and distorted information as to the history, triumphs and contributions of different groups within our society. As a nation built on the sacrifices of many different immigrant groups we must bear in mind that while the faces of immigrants have changed, their pioneering spirit, courage, determination, ability to thrive, and dreams of securing a better future for their children remain the same.


Finding from the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) 1997-1998: A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farm workers US Department of Labor.

The Human Cost of Food: Farm workers lives, labor and advocacy Edited by Charles D. Thompson and Melinda Wiggings Working Poor: Farm workers in the United States by David Griffith and Ed Kissam.

Coming Up on the Season – Farm workers in the United States and Farmerworkers in New York State by Kay Embrey.

Farm workers and Racism by Betty Garcia Mathewson.

Photo by bobjagendorf / CC BY

Authenticity in a Community Setting — A Tool for Self-Reflection and Change

The process of change from a multicultural perspective will ask individuals and organizations to consider many new and exciting thoughts, ideas and processes. Change is a process that must be intentional, purposeful and fluid. Oftentimes the process of multicultural change is one that almost exclusively centers on the “other” in the relationship as the place where change should occur. In my attempts to work more effectively, thereby, more authentically with communities of difference, it has been important for me to begin any process of change as a journey of self-focus, self-excavation and self-reflection.

In my own personal journey, it has been important to keep present the duality of my multicultural reality; that is, that I have membership in both target groups and a non-target groups. Target groups are groups that are targeted as “less than” or different because of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, role or job, and other differences. Non-target groups are defined as groups that are more likely to receive privileges and benefits in a society and who believe that their “way” is better.1 In any given situation, I am an elder, 40+ years old and Latino [target group] and a male, middle and owning class, heterosexual, U.S. born, a person without disabilities and an English speaker [non-target group]. These group memberships, along with the actions, behaviors and reactions that are associated with each, have an impact on my ability to work effectively and authentically with communities of difference. Moreover, when I can operate from a place of healing of my target group experiences and understand when I am operating from my points of privilege and in less authentic ways from my non-target group status, I may be able to incorporate ideas such as trust, sustainability, authenticity and community in-reach.

Operating in relationships across differences from a place of trust and authenticity that are grounded in sustainability and community in-reach, will, over time lead to new and exciting opportunities. These opportunities will engage individuals and organizations with new audiences, lead to individual and organizational growth, and result in the continued relevancy of any organization willing to commit to this ongoing process. Committing to and incorporating these tenants on the individual and institutional levels will assist as a foundation for multicultural change.


A key foundational tenet for developing and maintaining healthy relationships across differences is the development and preservation of trust. Trust goes beyond the desire of individuals or organizations of difference to be engaged in an interaction together. It must be a mutually defined relational principle that needs continuous work and updating. It is effortful, intentional and ongoing. Developing trust across difference requires active listening that is focused on understanding others’ realities and holding those differing realities as relevant as my own. Trust is centered on the ability to reduce denial and defensiveness and a commitment to remaining in the relationship and “at the table” as the relationship develops and when tension or discomfort arises. Trust is identifying where we get stuck and how we will work collectively to keep the relationship intact operating from a place of wholeness, health and authenticity. Helpful questions to keep in mind when developing trust across differences are:

1. Why would the target group I am interested in working with desire to be involved with my organization or me?

2. What are my motives for wanting to be involved in this relationship? Are those motives foundational principles to building trust or are they obstacles?

Trust (continued)

3. What history of involvement does my organization have with the target group? What obstacles or opportunities does this history present to the relationship?

4. What personal excavation and work must I continually do to understand my privileges, my assumptions and prejudgments, and other potential barriers toward building trust as both parties continue working more closely together?

5. When interacting with individuals who are culturally different from myself, what reactions or internal messages do I receive that trigger defensiveness or denial on my part? What do I need to do for myself to work through these reactions to build and maintain a trusting relationship?


One of the true indicators of a successful multicultural relationship, collaboration or initiative is whether or not it is maintained over time and leads to other opportunities that capitalize on each other’s assets and strengthen the alliance. Although conditions for sustainability may not be measurable until the end of a process, it must be a goal of an authentic multicultural process, and intentional and purposeful planning must be integrated into all aspects of the relationship from beginning to end. It is also important that sustainability be a mutually defined and agreed upon goal, which is constantly discussed, updated and open for redefinition. Helpful questions to keep in mind when developing sustainability across differences are:

1. What characteristics and systems of mutual accountability will need to be a part of the relationship in order for there to be sustainability of the relationship or effort?

2. How are target group members involved in all aspects of the process and empowered to discuss the desire to sustain the relationship or effort beyond the original funding source, length of initiative defined in the original proposal, or when the relationship becomes internally or externally difficult?

3. What personal or non-target group characteristics must I examine that can be obstacles to sustainability? Do I need to be aware of issues related to control? Do I need to be aware of issues related to a well intentioned “savior mentality,” where my thoughts are centered on having all the right solutions and approaches to an issue and coming in to rescue the target group?

4. What do I need to be concerned about related to my tendency to operate from a monocultural approach to how a relationship or effort should be developed or sustained?

Community In-Reach Instead of Community Outreach

Many of us have been involved in community out-reach programs and initiatives. Although they may be needed, helpful and impactful, they are often based on maintaining relationships, intentionally or unintentionally, that are grounded in power and control. Many of these efforts begin with the assumption that people in non-target groups have all the “right” knowledge, information or programs, and that they need to spend time with target group members and show them what they need out of the kindness of their hearts. Moreover, non-target individuals can then tell others about their good deeds and feel great about themselves. They might even be able to receive additional funding or accolades from this endeavor while never having developed any long lasting connection with the community in which they served. These efforts are often grounded in a “savior mentality,” where individual’s thoughts are centered on having all the right solutions and approaches to an issue and coming in to rescue the target group. Additionally, these efforts based from a “savior mentality,” may include good intentions but result in limited impact, multiple levels of frustrations, and cursory relationship building.

On the other hand, community in-reach efforts can be characterized as those efforts that begin with the premises that all parties entering into the relationship have assets and that combining these assets can lead to authentic community efforts that can be established and maintained. It is less centered on maintaining power and control, and it focuses on establishing trust and genuineness. Community in-reach efforts are grounded in all parties’ willingness to be humble, patient, open to learning about themselves and others, flexible and adaptable, and committed to doing what is needed – not what is most expedient. Helpful questions to keep in mind when wanting to create community in-reach efforts across differences are:

1. What are my individual and organizational motives for wanting to do work with target groups or a target group community?

2. How will I create a process that allows for the assets of all involved to be honored?

3. What measures will be used that allow all involved to recognize when they have created a community in-reach effort that can be a model for future collaborations?

Authentic Relationships

It is important to work toward authenticity in relationships across differences. Authenticity moves beyond a mere friendship or working affiliation. It is based on trust, honesty, genuineness, responsibility to each other, willingness to be open and humble, willingness to take risks, and the understanding that tension in the relationship is a necessary component that will lead to growth. Individuals in this type of relationship practice self-focus, are more concerned about the impact of their words and actions vs. the intent, are collaborative in nature rather than competitive, are committed to being in an active and ongoing process of personal change, and constantly question their inherent biases and prejudices. Authenticity also encourages and nurtures opportunities for all engaged to heal from the ravages of oppression and work toward bringing a wholeness of spirit and mind into the relationship. Helpful questions to keep in mind when wanting to create authenticity in relationships across differences are:

1. What intentional work have I done on the personal level to understand the realities of individuals who are different from myself? In addition, what work have I done to understand the totality of my own cultural identity as a way of being conscious of my privileges?

2. Am I willing to speak my truth about my target group experiences and what will need to be present in the relationship for this to occur?

3. Am I willing to listen deeply as individuals of difference speak about the pain and reality of their experiences?

4. What work do I need to do to heal from the pain of my target group experience in order to more deeply understand my non-target group experience as I work to dismantle all forms of oppression?

5. What am I willing and able to do to continue to be aware of my tendency to perpetuate “modernism” behaviors from my non-target status for example, dysfunctional rescue or avoidance of contact, etc., that hinder my ability to develop authentic relationships?

6. Once established, what will need to be present in order to nurture this authentic relationship toward further growth and understanding of all involved?

7. What are the costs to my organization, my community and me if I am not engaged in and committed to an authentic relationship with those different from myself?

1 Batts, V. (2002). Is Reconciliation Possible: Lessons from Combating “Modern Racism.” In Douglas, I. (ed.), Waging Reconciliation: God’s Mission in a Time of Globalization and Crisis (pp.35-75) New York: Church Publishing Incorporated

© November 2003––——