At our meeting on Friday, May 7, 2021, club members participated in an important and thought provoking continuation of our club's conversation on Rotary's Four-Way Test and how we can harness it to achieve Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
We started with one difficult question: IS IT THE TRUTH that folks of all races are treated equally? As much as we strive to make that happen (and we must), the honest answer is no. However, Neil Shorthouse reminded us that as AWER members, we are perfectly situated to play a significant role in helping our communities achieve true equality, and as leaders, we have the awesome responsibility to take action in this regard.
Marilyn shared her truth--that even within Rotary, she has in the past not felt totally included and accepted. Accordingly, Marilyn is proposing an Eighth Pillar to Rotary's seven service areas. This Eighth Pillar reads as follows: "Rotary strives to be the example for the World within the organization's membership using the 4 Way Test to eradicate racism. We encourage discussion, projects, decision-making, and self-reflection to build and support common ground. This area of focus is for courageous people who want to help communities, law enforcement, major corporations, civic leaders, religious organizations, and radical groups to face hate and bigotry to end racism." Marilyn made the point that if Rotary can eradicate polio, it can eradicate racism! So, lets hope RI adopts this important new pillar.
With the floor open for discussion, the following members made brave and important comments and suggestions:
- Chris Hempfling--took the lead to address the elephant in the room---that all races are not treated equally. He suggested that for Rotary to expand its ability to make headway in the fight against racism, we should make a concerted effort to elevate our profile in the community and to dispel the notion that Rotary members are elderly white men;
- Frances Ellison-Dansby--recognized that we're being short-sited when we look at eradicating racism as a simple issue. This is a multi-layered problem and requires multiple solutions. She noted how AWER members are perfect for this challenge, given our ability and desire to speak freely and powerfully on issues relating to racism;
- Rose Caplan --noted how racism is a difficult topic to discuss, but applauded AWER members' willingness to engage in this discussion, as continuing to talk about this issue facilitates progress;
- Elma McCutchen --recognized that in order for us to move forward and end racism, we need to make alliances with each other because it takes ALL OF US to make an impact;
- Myrna Anderson Fuller --recommend that we establish a defined process in regard to Rotary's efforts to combat racism. She recommended that we set clear goals and regularly evaluate whether we're progressing as much as we'd like;
- John Ingersoll--noted that over the past 30 years, AWER has become more diverse--something that occurred organically. He noted how AWER has always been a refuge for integration and has been a great space in which to have free and honest discussions on the scourge of racism; and
- Matt Parrish--suggested that we expand our personal and professional networks to reach a more diverse group of folks;
- Our fearless President Kimberly Weaver left us with some homework: she encouraged each of us to think about what "Is it the Truth" means and how to incorporate this into our daily lives.