Posted on Oct 06, 2021
Our Zoom meeting on October 6 hosted Patrice M. Palmer (they/them/theirs) who works in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at both Colorado State University (Director of Social & Cultural Inclusion, College of Business) and New Belgium Brewing Company (DEI specialist).  Patrice was introduced by RCFC member Juan Villasenor who met Patrice in several on-line forums and was impressed by the fact that they thought deeply about their inclusivity subject matter. 
Patrice started with a discussion of the necessity for individuals to feel safe in the various “spaces” that they occupy.  The acronym for this diversity of spaces is B.R.A.V.E.:  respect for BOUNDARIES, be RESPECTFUL and REFLECTIVE of other people’s differences, ADVOCATE for the disadvantaged or minorities, VAULT into or be confidential about others’ differences, and EMPOWER others to be comfortable in their own spaces.  They suggest that we lean into things that we don’t understand, that we engage with conflicting models, and that we try to let our defenses down in dealing with “other” groups. 
They suggests that we should use a new lens for looking at diversity, the lens of L.O.V.E., an acronym for the benefits of LIBERATION (freedom from stereotypes), OBJECTIVITY (evaluate others on their scale rather than yours), VALUE (appreciate others for their value to society rather than their membership in a group), and EMPOWERMENT (work to facilitate “others” being able to feel safe in their own spaces and to contribute to the whole).  Working within that framework enables the reality that great people, no matter what group they might come from, make you greater.  It is a framework that enables you to think through relationships and go above and beyond the current situation. 
A good place to start is to speak or evaluate your own “truth” by listing and evaluating your various identities (e.g., parent, sibling, employee, profession, etc.) and their relationships to each other and to you as a whole.  This may result in recognition that you have internal inconsistencies and that you may have to unlearn other people’s “truths” about you.  Their simple example involved the recognition, after many years of a relationship with an individual, that the individual’s name was significantly different from the name used all those years.  A more general possibility is that you may find that your “truth” about yourself differs significantly from the “truth” about you held by your family or other close groups, perhaps requiring a re-evaluation of those relationships. 
In the area of leadership, Patrice asks how you lead.  They suggests that a leader sees how things can be improved and then plans for that improvement; centering on people first, using the L.O.V.E approach.  Leading without the LOVE approach may result in being “color blind”, which, by avoiding consideration of the differences, for example in racial identity, may ignore the advantages of different groups and making those groups feel not safe in the work space. This may result in actually allowing harmful behavior.  This may result in the mistaken belief that “difference” is actually a defect, which produces an inferior response.  Being consciously unaware can lead to discrimination as stereotypes lead to conditioning, leading to judgement, followed by behavior which is discriminatory.  Basically, thoughts become things and a transformation is necessary. 
Some questions: 
What qualities in organizations block LOVE?  The pace of change can be overwhelming.  To the extent that other groups are not represented, it may be impossible to effectuate LOVE. 
What is the role of social emotional intelligence in LOVE?  Much revolves around value; insuring that my privileges are available to the “others”. 
What is the best method for discovering your “true” self?  It requires both inside-out self-evaluation and journeying with other people. 
How does the LOVE model have to adapt to older groups?  Patrice acknowledged that there is a widespread, judgmental “ageism” attitude, suggesting that old folks will not change.  However, those old folks are “seasoned” in life and have been changing and learning through their entire lives and most are not going to discard that flexibility now.  Old white men should not be excluded but other groups should be included.  They began to recognize that ageism could apply even to them when confronted by the fact of their birth “in the 1900s”. 
How does progress in DEI since the death of George Floyd compare with the decades before that event?  They acknowledged that progress has been better recently than, say, 10 years earlier, but we are always stuck in the world of “now” and, no matter what the time frame, advocacy is a difficult position to occupy.