Dr. Kimya N. Dennis is the guest for this Leading in Color episode.
Dr. Dennis is an educator, researcher, consultant, and community advocate specializing in mental health, suicide and suicidal self-harm, law enforcement, criminal justice system, sexual health and freedom, and reproductive health and freedom. This captures contributing demographic and cultural factors, demographic and cultural identities, and legality and illegality. The general population is reached with emphasis on underserved and underrepresented individuals, communities, and cultures.
This is Part 1 of 2 featuring Dr. Dennis. Episode 7 will feature the conclusion of the interview. Be sure to listen to both parts to gain full insight into her advice and perspectives.
Dr. Dennis advocates for “Diversity 365,” which means looking at diversity from every angle, every day -- not just when negative issues arise or during required annual trainings. The primary takeaways from Part 1 are:
- Change begins within. Before you begin working with others, start by working with yourself. Understand your own biases and privileges, and challenge yourself to overcome them and use your power to help others without expectation of reward or accolades. Be both knowledgeable and teachable.
- Know when to speak and when to be quiet. Many people only want to talk about diversity in a philosophical or theoretical way. This cannot lead to lasting change or inclusion. Do not waste too much time or effort working with these individuals to change their minds. Instead, focus your work with those who are willing to engage in productive, dynamic dialogue and work on policy change.
- Challenge falsehoods. Do not allow tokenism, false color-blindness, or assumptions about inclusion to persist in spaces you occupy. Speak up with confidence and authority against works which do not solve real problems or spread untrue information.
Dr. Dennis mentions 3 bodies of work during the interview which you may want to read more about:
- WEB DuBois’s “Double Consciousness”
- Mark Granovetter’s “The Strength of Weak Ties Theory”
- Robert Merton’s “Typology of Prejudice & Discrimination”
Learn more about Dr. Dennis on her website, www.kimyandennis.com. Connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn at @kimyandennis and on Twitter @KimyaNDennisPhD.