The Potomac Approach
We strive for diversity and inclusion in the conviction that a learning community is intellectually and morally strengthened when many different voices, viewpoints, and backgrounds are engaged and learning from each other. Proactively and consistently, we are committed to challenging stereotypes, creating awareness, and cultivating empathy and respect.
Learning is not only a cognitive and social experience, but also an identity experience. We believe communities are stronger when everyone - students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni - can bring their entire identity to school/work and are valued for their contributions. We define cultivating a positive self-identity as getting to know who you are, what your values are, and loving and accepting what it is about you that makes you different.
Defining Actions Through Words
Cultural competence is the ability to work effectively across differences with curiosity, humility, and non-judgment.
Diversity refers to those differences in identity that impact our social experiences, including status and access to resources. The impacts of those differences affect entire groups of people, not just individuals.
- Diversity is always social and contextual.
- Diversity includes majority and normative identities. (Consider how identifying as heterosexual, physically-able, and gender-confirming facilitate everyday life.)
- Diversity matters to you, to me, and to us.
- The point of naming and talking about diversity is to create communities and institutions where everyone can thrive.
“Diversity” is one of those everyday words that we often don’t bother to define when we use it, perhaps because the very act of defining it can lead to endless semantic warfare.
Some of us believe diversity, quite simply, refers to differences. These could be differences in dessert preference (pie or mochi), clothing choice (corduroys or denim) or, yes, race (but "why do we get stuck on that?" is the implied frustration)
… which points to the other default definition of diversity: race. Or more specifically, racism directed at poor people of color. Under this definition, the entirety of “diversity” is co-opted exclusively for a conversation that is really about racial inequity. (Notice this in your next conversation when skin color is never explicitly mentioned and yet is the focal point of the “diversity” issue being discussed.)"
- Alison Park