The Center for Leadership & Social Change hosted its annual Multicultural Leadership Summit featuring the theme “CTRL + ALT + DEL: Rethinking Diversity Here & Now.”
More than 250 people representing eight universities attended the summit Jan. 26-27. Opening keynote speaker Shantel Buggs, an assistant professor in the FSU Department of Sociology, launched discussions among participants, facilitators and speakers on the progress of equality and inclusion initiatives in our world.
Buggs posed the question, “Why aren’t we there yet?” followed by the message of why she thinks “there” is still attainable.
“I don’t think we have to have all the answers,” Buggs said. “I think we have to work through them.”
Conference participants explored what it means to get “there” through a range of social topics, including cultural appropriation, divisions within racial communities, toxic masculinity, politics and the #MeToo social media movement.
“I learned a lot about intersectionality and how to be more inclusive,” said FSU student Bridget Duignan. “I went to a session on pop culture and social justice. It’s hard to grasp how much I don’t know.”
During his discussion, “Time to Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable,” FSU football player and student activist Richard Garzola analyzed how to better integrate minorities within communities and dismantle discrimination.
“It is better to be ignorant for a second than a lifetime,” Garzola said. “If you don’t like what someone said, pull them aside. Address ignorance when it arises instead of pushing it down — you have to be uncomfortable — if you aren’t, then things aren’t going anywhere.”
Keynote speaker Jenny Lorenzo, an actress and producer known for creating Latinx focused content for Buzzfeed and Mitú, focused on the theme of choosing to continue a dialogue across difference. Lorenzo discussed the hardships of working in an industry that caters to racial, gender and ethnic stereotypes and her experience with what she called “living in the hyphen.”
“Living in the hyphen for me is that little space between Cuban and American,” Lorenzo said. “For women, people of color and those of us who live in the hyphen, the key is not to fit into someone else’s box but to make your own.”
Lorenzo discussed the freeing experience of creating content that showcases an authentic portrait of the Latinx community.
“I began writing roles for myself so I no longer had to prove that my Latinx community was interesting or profitable,” Lorenzo said. “I could finally share an experience that was not always accurately represented.”
Lorenzo encouraged attendees to create a more inclusive and accurately represented society.
“Finding your voice and sharing it with the world is important,” Lorenzo said. “To be successful in creating diversity and inclusion we have to demand to be seen on our own terms. We can’t be afraid to create our open path.”
For more information, visit thecenter.fsu.edu.