Yesterday, after a great planning meeting of the Summer Institute faculty, I spontaneously tweeted out a thank you to the team, showcasing their photos in a tweet. Within minutes, I received feedback that my communication was interpreted as evidence of a lack of diversity and inclusiveness. Many people sent disapproving and shaming messages to me and the Summer Institute faculty, telling me that my visual depiction was not OK.
At the time I tweeted it, I wanted to honor the time and effort that these people are investing to advance the Summer Institute’s mission to support leadership in digital literacy.
I failed by not understanding how an image that depicts 11 white women and men could be interpreted in ways that do not reflect our values. The feedback I received via tweets is appreciated.
I want to honor the diverse talents and life experiences of our team even I know that we can and must work harder to increase the racial diversity of our team.
My communication failure is not the ideal way to welcome Amber Coleman-Mortley from iCivics as our keynote speaker. Her work aims to elevate diverse voices and perspectives within the civic education space.
I want to apologize to the 2021 Summer Institute team, too. You have chosen to participate in the program because you know and appreciate our enduring values. You are giving your time and talent because of your loyalty to the program — and you are doing it for little pay and few benefits. I’m sorry that you have been subjected to critique for participating in the program.
This experience speaks to the real need for us to do better — and do more — to recruit people of color as program faculty and leaders. Stay tuned as as we focus our attention on this important issue.