“What can I do to make a difference?” My answer to this question is something that bothers me to this day. My answer used to be to simply do nothing and live your life. I wish it were that simple, but anything worth having never comes easy. The unfortunate truth is she, just like me, just like some of you, will have to fight. You will have to stand up in a crowd of yeses and say no, but this is how real change happens. Not by following what has been done time and time again, or from being silent or going with the crowd. Change can only happen when we stand up and say enough. I realize why my answer was to do nothing because the person who stands up and says something is usually the one that labeled as trouble or trying to divide. Having the courage to stand up and face the judgement, ridicule, isolation, fear, and doubt is more than anyone should have to bear.
For the past two years, I served on the President’s Staff Advisory Council. I hoped to reapply for another term but was sent a letter saying I would not be eligible to apply. The letter states why the council members had decided to come to this decision. Yes, it is true. I did question everything. I did speak up in meetings. I did refuse to submit reports and I did criticize the leadership of the council on several occasions. I spoke up in meetings because I disagreed with what was being said, I questioned the policies and procedures because they did not seem right. I refused to spend time creating reports when there was no clear reason as to why we were being asked to do so. I was critical of the leadership because I felt that they did not know how to lead. Being a leader is not about telling people what to do. A real leader is not threatened by voices in the room, they welcome it. I regret nothing I said or did. The words that were used were nothing new to me, as a Black woman I have been told that I am disruptive, aggressive, negative, and uncooperative. These words were used to condemn me but I will not let that happen.
To create change you must disrupt the normal. You must be deliberate and unwilling to settle or accept what you are told. I am unapologetic for any of the times I stood up and spoke. I hope to create a culture, community, and world where people who stand up and speak are not condemned but supported. I do not need a council, bylaws, title or anything else that is used to restrict thought or progress. If you are interested in creating a culture that is inclusive, encouraging, supportive and thoughtful, I ask that you join me. My hope is to create a collective voice of faculty, staff and students, where we can freely discuss and develop ways to create positive change. If you want to learn more about how to create a more inclusive campus, please join me on Thursday, April 22, 2021 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to hear from Michael Benitez Jr., the vice president for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from Metropolitan State University of Denver as he discusses what it takes for universities to become more inclusive. If I could go back and answer the question, I would say that when you have the opportunity to lend your voice to what you feel is important, do not ever give up or think that your voice cannot change things for the better.