Orchard's DEI Blog | "2020 Vision: Educate, Listen, Action"

Welcome to Orchard's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Blog. Below is the most recent blog, "2020 Vision: Educate, Listen, Action" by Lisa Pryor.

As I sit in my backyard, roughly one mile from downtown Indianapolis, I have been able to see and hear some of the events taking place as individuals protest and others “riot.” I can frequently hear the circling of helicopters monitoring the situation. At times, I hear loud booming sounds… I really don’t want to know their source. While riding my bike last night, I rode past countless police officers as they blocked off the streets leading to the heart of downtown. This all seems surreal in some ways and, honestly, it seems long overdue in other ways. 

During the faculty and staff in-service day back in January, I presented a workshop entitled Orchard 2020 and Beyond: Change Your Focus, Change Your Life. During the workshop we, as a whole, discussed what it would take to create a utopian state within our own walls. We discussed the best and brightest parts of our dear Orchard community - the loving, caring, inclusive, magical place that we have all come to know and love. However, we also discussed some of the roadblocks that hinder us from achieving our goal of creating the best, most inclusive and loving place possible. I believe that our roadblocks are very similar to those we face as a nation. 

When you think about the term 20/20 vision, what comes to mind? It is said to mean a normal visual acuity, the clarity and sharpness of vision while standing at 20 ft away. Some people believe that 20/20 vision is “perfect.” It is the best of the best, and if you have 20/20 vision you can see “perfectly.” However, despite the thoughts surrounding the meaning of 20/20 vision, it is actually said that 20/20 vision is only a measurement and it does not mean “perfect” vision. So, what does this have to do with listening to helicopters and hearing the loud booming sounds coming from downtown Indianapolis amidst the protesting surrounding yet another killing of an unarmed black man? Is there a possibility that some of us have been walking around claiming to have 20/20 or “perfect” vision when thinking about our implicit bias when, in actuality, we are not perfect and have more work to do? Is it possible that sometimes we are happy to post a black square to social media, but we are unknowingly engaging in the very behaviors we claim to stand in solidarity against? When your 20/20 vision is distorted by red-colored glasses, is it still 20/20 vision? Is it possible that we are gaging our vision as “perfect” in relation to a measurement from 20 feet away, and this is actually a 401 feet issue (1619-2020)? 

My assertion is this, 2020 has actually shown us a 20/20 view of the systemic injustices in this country. From healthcare to police brutality, we have gotten a very acute and clear glimpse of where we are as a nation. This is not new, our awareness around it is being heightened. While I personally may not be able to make huge changes on a national level, I can control myself and my actions. I can take on the work necessary to create the most inclusive, aware, caring, empathetic, loving community that I can to help create change for myself, my family, my friends, the Orchard community, the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, and the nation. What we do on a small scale matters to the larger, greater good. The ripple effect will change a nation. 

What to do, what to do? The first step is we must continue to educate ourselves. Education about the history of this nation, about the construct of “race,” about the systemic structures put in place to oppress black people every day. From the word “negro” to the housing market. From slavery to Black Wall Street. If we view these protests as isolated uprisings tied to one or two “bad apples” in the bunch, we miss the point. This isn’t about a bad apple, this is about a basket with clear flaws carrying the entire bunch. This is about putting a “bad apple” next to one that isn’t and watching the unintended results of creating another “bad apple.” And, this really isn’t about police, it’s about the creation of a system carrying out the very intentions of its design.
   
The next step is to listen. Listen to the voices of those who have been oppressed. Hear the pain without trying to explain it away or to fix it. Create a container for the hurt to have a safe space to be released and let it be. This takes doing your own work first. Commit to change and take action. Send emails, call Senators, buy from black-owned businesses, highlight black voices on your own platforms. Do not reduce this cry for justice to only the time frame of the protests demanding for our voices to be heard. 

We must improve our vision. We must do what it takes to actually see more clearly, not just profess that our vision is already clear. What support do you need? Are you willing to take the initiative to get it and claim your place in creating a better world? We need you.  

As my cousin reminded me today, “sometimes we forget that progress is not supposed to be easy. It’s uncomfortable, but it needs to be done. One conversation at a time, if need be.” I challenge you to have a conversation on the current state of our nation, our communities, our school, our homes today. It is bound to lead to you to become more educated or to you educating someone else. I challenge you to listen with empathy. I challenge you to turn this knowledge and awareness into action again and again and again.

Love to all,
Lisa L. Pryor
Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
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