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'Conversations' educate and inform

courageous conversations with tonya bailey a bridge to undoing racism

Arianne Olayinka

"Courageous Conversations," with LCC Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Tonya Bailey, was set in motion during the fall of 2020. The two-hour virtual sessions are held monthly.

"In September of 2020 we had our first 'Courageous Conversations' and themed it undoing racism" Bailey said. "At the time, there were a lot of protests, the murder of George Floyd, and so many other issues happening in the world.

"Stereotypes and biases were at an all-time high and I just relayed that we needed to have conversation to educate and inform and bring us together, instead of take us apart."

Bailey expressed her thoughts on the power of conversation.

 "I believe that change starts with a single conversation," Bailey said. "So, if we can get on one accord to have a conversation, then we definitely can be on that same accord to change a situation."

The conversations are not limited to LCC students.

"We grow as a people from learning from one another, being able to hear each other's stories; learn about concepts and processes and systems that have existed long before we have," Bailey said.

"We grow together through our conversation and these are open opportunities for all to take advantage of – students, faculty, staff and community. It is an asset that the college is providing for all of our development and a way for us to make sustainable change in the future that we all hope to see."

Bailey offered insight on one of the sessions' directives.

"We start off each conversation with something that I borrowed from Palmer Parker on 'Touchstones and Hashtags,' a directive that says, 'Whatever is said here stays here, but what is learned here leaves here,'" Bailey said.

"Part of that directive is, there are no observers in the room. We are all participants – even, if that is a nod, even if that is a smile, even if that is a body posture to let a speaker know that, 'I am understanding you.'"

Bailey said the next "conversation" will be a bit different.

"In lieu of our monthly Courageous Conversations, this national convention will take place on Dec. 8," Bailey said.

"We're really looking forward to our next … conversation – a national conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as accessibility. I think that LCC is just prime to be a leader to have these national conversations … I really believe that we are better together."



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