Something to Consider for 2020

INTERCULTURAL AFFAIRS | At a certain point in our lives, we start remembering how things were “back in the day” or “way back when.” Back when we used typewriters with “onion skin” paper to facilitate correcting our errors, or big desktop computers with now-ridiculously huge floppy disk drives. Also, way back when, we could rely on singular pronouns to refer to singular persons, and understood others as being simply “men” or “women” rather than “non-binary.”

The world keeps changing. And it can be a challenge to understand not just the technological shifts, but the seismic social shifts in society. What does it mean to be “non-binary”?  How did the world we once understood as simpler, shift to reveal such nuances in race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other expressions of identity? In response to these emerging constructs, the use of gender pronouns, regardless of whether we can fully understand or relate to these differing social identities, shows that we are willing to expand our ideas about what basic courtesy and respect look like in this moment. How would this contribute to the world we live in?

As our social realities have become more complex, our social worlds simultaneously feel more fragmented and compartmentalized. And yet, as human beings, we all must face similar questions as to how we choose to maintain our personal integrity, practice our faith/spirituality/traditions, and exercise our responsibility to be good persons and citizens. We may do so in vastly different ways–in accordance with our varied, and often clashing, ideologies and perspectives–but the task of needing to figure out what it means to be human is universal. Unfortunately, we can often find ourselves looking at each other across divides that seem near impossible to bridge, with the different paths we choose.

And yet we must keep trying. To understand what it means to be human. To see others in their full humanity. And then, to try to bridge these divides. This is a formidable yet worthy challenge in our world today. Even if we don’t fully understand how the world has changed, and why these changes seem so important to others (and even if they do not appear relevant to our own experience of reality), the effort is important. The effort is about seeking to understand others’ experiences, in order that we may better show our regard and respect for their full humanity, as they understand themselves.

So, consider this when it comes to something as potentially confounding and confusing (for those of us in a different generation, that is) as the use of gender pronouns. In the end, it is less about being proficient in the correct use of these terms — singular vs. plural grammatical concerns aside — than it is about wanting to convey our regard for, and recognition of, the humanity of all people. This is about trying our best to exercise the kind of hospitality that allows everyone to feel more included and welcome in our world.

OIA Buzz

  • Quote of the Month: “Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.” —-Theodore Roosevelt
  • Celebrate: This month, we celebrate Intercultural Affairs Associate Joseph Bernardo, who has been featured in a recent LA Times Article on Historic Filipinotown (“HiFi”). Read the article here.
  • D & I Quick Tips: Gender Pronouns
  • MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Don’t forget to REGISTER for an Implicit Bias workshop this Spring. In each workshop, we explore how implicit biases form in our brains, their impact on other people and society, and strategies we can take to mitigate the implicit biases that we all possess. Join us in February:
    • Thursday, Feb. 6, 10 a.m. – noon – Center for Teaching Excellence UH-3000
    • Thursday, Feb. 20, 2 – 4 p.m.Center for Teaching Excellence UH-3000
  • CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS: Cabinet Associates 2020 | We are currently accepting nominations for OIA’s Cabinet Associates program (formerly “SVP Fellows”)—submissions will be due on March 2. Please contact for more information.
  • SAVE THE DATE: This year’s annual Charles S. Casassa, SJ Lecture will feature Dr. Carolyn Finney, author of Black Faces, White Spaces. Prof. Finney will be speaking on Jan. 30 from 1 – 2:30 p.m. in the McIntosh Room in University Hall, followed by a reception in the Marymount Institute. Finney’s work touches on race, gender, and environmental issues. Find more information here!
  • The next IMPLICIT BIAS WORKSHOPS will be on Thursday, Feb. 6, 10 a.m. – noon and Thursday, Feb. 20, 2 – 4 p.m. at the Center for Teaching Excellence in UH-3000. Please be sure to register. See you there!
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