Dr. Jacque T. Washington delivering her keynote address, "Radical Reconciliation: Shifting Power While Honoring Truth," Friday, April 29, 2022.

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Third annual Inclusive Excellence Summit provides learning opportunities for staff and faculty

The third annual Inclusive Excellence Summit kicked off on Monday, April 25 with an interactive keynote titled “Confronting Ourselves,” by speaker, educator, and author Dr. Derek Greenfield. Attendees online and in-person were challenged to identify their commonalities as well as salient differences in the spirit of promoting greater empathy and cultural proficiency. “Treat people the way they want to be treated. But to do that we've got to know people. We've got to have the ability to truly see each other and have some of these wonderfully rich, and sometimes challenging, conversations."

The summit, sponsored by The Department of Inclusion and BelongingThe Presidential Advisors on Diversity and Equity (PADE), and the Division of Human Resources took place over three days, April 25, 27, and 29. Offered free of charge to staff and faculty, the summit provided employees the opportunity to learn and develop practical skills for cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace and fostering a culture of belonging.

“This year's theme is 'Truth and Reconciliation,' which sounds like a beginning and an end, but in actuality, it is a process," said Erin Sember-Chase, DEI Learning Consultant in the Department of Inclusion and Belonging. "A process that involves acknowledging painful facts and history, honoring individuals’ stories and truths, and working toward bridging differences and hopefully, ultimately, healing. It is based on the belief that confronting and reckoning with the past and the truth is critical for transitioning from a place of conflict and tension to one of peace and connectedness."

Over three days, participants heard from experts on topics including emotional intelligence, fatphobia in higher education, "free" speech in the age of social media, and psychological barriers to reparations.

The summit concluded with a powerful talk by Cornell Health therapist, Dr. Jacque Tara Washington, titled “Radical Reconciliation: Shifting Power While Honoring Truth.” Dr. Washington discussed how the history of racism in the U.S. was predicated on unjust systemic power dynamics that continue to impede genuine reconciliation efforts between the races or between socio-economic systems. 

"Change and transformation in a racist society come about through evolution, never giving up, ignoring naysayers, and welcoming all people genuinely committed to that purpose and those goals," she said.

"It will take every person in this room... every one of us on this campus, this community, this country, and globally, to be radical in shifting our thinking from what it has been to what it must be. The work is exhausting. It's been going on for a very, very long time, and it can seem like it will never end. The world is fatigued with the racism battle. I acknowledge that and I know it's a fact; however, we cannot leave it for others to do. Each and every one of us must do the work."


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