Diversity, While Challenging, Is Worthwhile

Leader Kate Lovelady gives a Platform on “The Challenges of Diversity” June 16, 2019.

A Post-Platform Reflection by Adrien Gojko

Kate Lovelady’s Platform address of June 16, dubbed “The Challenges of Diversity,” covered quite a bit of ground.

She went over how “diversity is essential to ethical living.” Explaining in a candid yet kind manner, she discussed how we’ve “moved beyond tolerating diversity” and into “appreciating” diversity and how it makes communities more interesting, more beautiful, and healthier.

She briefly brought up cultural relativism and the differing ideas surrounding it. In all honesty, I had to look up that term. My understanding is that cultural relativism is the “cure” to ethnocentrism.

Ethnocentrism, a term I’ve learned from taking University-level anthropology classes, is when you judge other cultures based only on your own experience. Essentially, it’s assuming your experience is the “default” and all others are “incorrect.”

Cultural relativism is all about trying your best to emphasize with people of other cultures by using your imagination muscles to envision things through their lenses. It means looking into other people’s worlds through the context of their experiences.

Then, she brought up the problem of civil, human, and minority rights briefly, before she announced that she wanted to focus on the issue of diversity within the Ethical Society itself.

I, personally, have many feelings about diversity within ethical culture (or, frankly, the lack thereof), so this statement certainly piqued my interest. Kate said how ethical societies should reflect the world around us.

I definitely don’t always feel like ours does. I don’t feel I get much variety of people from our Society – especially people like me (queer, disabled). I want to see that change and to help that process.

Kate made it a point to bring up our Society’s first annual report card on diversity and inclusion was given by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Ethical Society reported how “we still have a lot of work to do.”

I hate to say that I definitely agree. I’m hoping to help bring a change in our Society and in diversifying our Platform and Forum speakers and membership.

She said that we need to learn to recognize the form(s) of privilege that we have, and how ours and others’ lack thereof effects our dynamics with each other.

Kate brought up that she strongly advised looking up information about a culture before grilling someone of that culture about their opinions. If this had been at a rowdy church setting, I might have gotten up out of my seat right there and shouted, “AMEN, AMEN!!”

She went over how important and wonderful diversity is for us, and for others. How we need each other, but also to respect the dignity of others too.

A great point brought up was how a lot of the older white people tend to ask where the younger folx and diversity are – and why they aren’t bringing in their own friends of younger ages and diverse races, sexualities, genders, etc.

As much as I love the community here at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, I will be the first to admit I’ve felt hurt sometimes by some members here. I’m fully aware that the actions of a few don’t reflect the whole, but I think saying this could be a good learning opportunity for many.

I use they/them pronouns and identify as gender-fluid. I make it a point to correct most of y’all when you use the incorrect pronouns. Most of the time, it’s okay and we move on. However, some of you have approached me and turned it into an intellectual debate or asked me about the grammar.

I’m not an English major nor an on-call queer rights activist. It isn’t my job to educate every member of the Ethical Society about how gender and language are social constructs. I wouldn’t mind, except it keeps repeating and becomes tiring.

I’m not a case study. I’m a human being and want to be treated as such. The reason we’re all here is to cultivate a community. Please, I don’t want to feel like an outsider anymore. I want to be treated as human too – by EVERYONE in our community.

I’m sure there are other minorities that come into our Society and feel the same way. I want to watch our Society flourish with fresh ideas, being mentored by those of you that have been around for awhile.

My call of action to you is to ask yourself this one question before talking to someone – a guest or member – that is different from you: ‘Will what I’m about to say make this person feel subhuman?’

When in doubt, take Kate’s suggestion from the Platform and try Google.

Adrein Gojko is a social media intern for the Ethical Society of St. Louis.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.