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How YPs Can Speak Down Barriers

Posted by: Pulse Young Professionals on Monday, November 2, 2015
As Pulse Young Professional’s Diversity & Inclusion chairperson, I’m incredibly proud of the intentional work Pulse members have put into chipping away at the stubborn barriers that stand between the people in our community. It’s been a busy year for diversity programming! We’ve been active at all of this year’s Netnight events, hosted an international potluck picnic in Falls Park, represented at the ACE Symposium, have taken part in a number of community panels and forums, and built bridges between our organization and other local YP groups such as Latinos United and the Urban League’s Upstate Network. I’m most proud of the conversations we’ve sparked in small, informal settings: enjoying a meal together, sharing our stories, and listening to the stories of others. We call these events Diversity Dialogue Dinners, and we hold them once a quarter. Since the inception of these dinners we’ve tackled issues of identity as it relates to food and culture, race and ethnicity, sexuality and gender identity, and religion and spirituality. In September we joined forces with Latinos United to offer a unique opportunity to network and learn about the lives of Latino YPs in Greenville. On November 17 (mark your calendars and register here!) we will hold our final dinner of the year to celebrate the accomplishments of YP women and discuss issues most pertinent to the women in our community. Diversity Dialogue Dinners have one thing in common – they revolve around conversation: two-way conversation. Dialogue about identity requires honesty, a willingness to be vulnerable, and a mutual trust in the other person’s good intentions. Dialogue requires us to recognize our own “internal recordings” – those thoughts and perspectives that we may not consciously recognize but are buried deep, subtly influencing the way we interact with our neighbors. We applaud every individual who has come to a dialogue dinner event; you’ve helped us counter hate and bias, strengthen cooperation, and develop forward-looking approaches that promote diversity and combat racism. This is something you can be proud of as a YP in this great city! Additionally, be proud that you live in a place where we don’t do this work in isolation. Take, for example, Speaking Down Barriers, an organization that holds events throughout the Upstate. Speaking Down Barriers, formerly known as Poetry & Conversation, began in 2013 after Scott Neely, former Pastoral Executive at First Presbyterian Church Spartanburg, heard Marlanda Dekine perform spoken word poetry at the Brighter Future Conference on Child Abuse. After several conversations, the first session took place in the church chapel and started a discussion of issues of class and race in the Upstate. Now, Speaking Down Barriers is a formal organization led by Marlanda. They promote the vision of ‚Äča world where all people are confronting and healing the roots of difference through mindfully-facilitated dialogue and intensive, anti-racism trainings. Speaking Down Barriers creates space for community healing that confront the systemic & structural existence of oppression, the intersectionality of oppression, as well as the interpersonal and individual narratives that perpetuate racism, heterosexism, classism, and other barriers. Other Upstate organizations and groups are also pursuing transformation and healing around issues of diversity and identity through work in community building, awareness, and advocacy. Some examples are Gender Benders (Director: Ivy Hill), #AgeOld (Director: Shemu'el Namaste), New Mind Health and Care (Director: Caroline Caldwell), and The UBUNTU Institute for Community Development (Director: Cindy Ball-Bernard). As YPs, we remain on the front lines of this work. When we speak down barriers, we do so loudly and decisively. As emerging leaders, we steer our ships with diversity in mind, knowing that it propels us that much faster and further. I encourage you to take the time to engage in these conversations and perhaps with one of the organizations mentioned. Be a part of the intentional discussions that allow us to understand the dynamics between us and empowers us to tear down walls and rebuild things together. Want to join a Speaking Down Barriers event?
  • First Mondays (Next one is November 2), 6:00 PM-8:30 PM: Spartanburg, First Presbyterian Church Family Life Center in Fogartie Hall
  • Second Tuesdays (Next one is November 10), 6:00 PM-8:30 PM: Greenville, Phillis Wheatley Community Center
  • October 27, 6:00 PM: Converse College, Barnet Room of Montgomery Student Center
  • November 19, 6:00 PM: University of South Carolina Upstate, Campus Life Center
For a video preview of the Speaking Down Barriers conversation program, check out this trailer: Greenville YPs make me proud. Keep embracing diversity and inclusion and being all-around awesome! Jed Dews 2015 Chair, Diversity & Inclusion About the Author: Jed Dews is the Quality Improvement Director for Pendleton Place, a nonprofit agency dedicated to keeping children safe and supporting families in crisis through prevention, assessment, and intervention. In this role, Jed coordinates the continual quality improvement process across the agency's departments, including its innovative foster care and community-based programming. With undergraduate and graduate education degrees from the University of Alabama and project management certification from the University of Texas, Jed's previous professional experiences include high school language arts instruction and corporate project management for e-learning companies followed by freelance consulting for nonprofit accreditation seekers and child victim advocates. Jed is also an ordained Ruling Elder in the PC (USA) and a graduate of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, with chaplaincy experience in LGBTQ resource centers and youth homeless shelters. Jed relocated to Greenville, SC three years ago and fell in love with the Upstate community. He now volunteers on the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force for Greenville Forward and chairs the Pulse Young Professionals Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Jed continues his studies as a graduate student in child advocacy at USC Upstate and plans to continue working for innovative, trauma-informed, and family-focused solutions to child maltreatment.


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