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Challenge yourself, challenge others

Yolanda Caldwell, chief diversity officer and director of the Women’s Leadership Institute and BOLD Women’s Leadership Network kicks off our 21-day challenge with a roundup of the diversity and inclusion efforts at Saint Rose, and some thoughts about how each of us can use this challenge to better understand our society, the role that each of us plays in increasing our understanding of diversity and inclusion, and how we can do our part to increase and improve the dialogue.

This campus-wide challenge launches April 1 and closes May 1. Each week, a new theme will be presented, tackling topics such as race, power, privilege, and leadership. Participants will engage in a series of tasks to help foster their awareness of the topic and reflect on their personal experiences. We encourage you to sign up as a team or with a friend, holding you and your peers accountable for each other!

How to use this challenge

Each day, we present a topic for you to think about, with plenty of resources for your further information: videos, articles, and even worksheets. Choose one or more activities each day, and use the discussion questions to examine each topic with friends, family, and yourself.

Get a copy of the challenge tracking sheet

Use our tracking guide to help log and monitor your activity throughout the challenge.

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Sign-up for the 21-day Challenge

21-Day Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge

Register for the 21-Day Diversity and Inclusion Challenge

Do you want to create or join a team? *
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Receive weekly email reminders (Each Monday in April)

21-day Challenge Topics

  1. Listen and behave respectfully. Don’t interrupt, turn to technology, or engage in private
    conversations while others are speaking. Use attentive, courteous body language.
  2. Courage and Confidentiality. We want to create an atmosphere for open, honest safe
    and brave exchange free of judgment.
  3. Step Up, Step Back. Be mindful of taking up more space than others. If you have a
    tendency to contribute often, give others the opportunity to share. If you tend to stay
    quiet in group discussions, consider sharing so others can learn from you.
  4. Be open to changing your perspectives based on what you learn from others. Try to
    explore new ideas and possibilities. Think critically about the factors that have shaped
    your perspectives. Recognize that we have different backgrounds.
  5. Understand that we are bound to make mistakes in this space, as anyone does when
    approaching complex tasks or learning new skills. Strive to see your mistakes and others’
    as valuable elements of the learning process. Be okay with disagreement.
  6. Understand that your words have effects on others. Speak with care. If you learn
    that something you’ve said was experienced as disrespectful or marginalizing, listen
    carefully and try to understand that perspective.
  7. Understand that others will come to these discussions with different experiences
    from yours. Be careful about assumptions and generalizations you make based only on
    your own experience. Be open to hearing and learning from other perspectives.
  8. Understand that there are different approaches to all aspects of life. If you are
    uncertain about someone else’s approach, if and when appropriate, ask a question to
    explore areas of uncertainty. Listen respectfully to how and why the approach could work.
  9. Our primary commitment is to learn from each other. We will listen to each other and
    not talk at each other. We acknowledge differences amongst us in backgrounds, skills,
    interests, and values.
  10. We will not demean, devalue, or “put down” people for their experiences, lack of
    experiences, or difference in interpretation of those experiences.
  11. Consider, trust, and/or believe that people are doing the best they can. We will try
    to leave space for everyone to learn and change through our interactions with one
    another. Consider showing up as a step forward and/or of hope.
  12. Challenge the idea and not the person. If we wish to challenge something that has
    been said, we will challenge the idea or the practice referred to, not the individual
    sharing this idea or practice.
  13. Speak your discomfort. If something is bothering you, please share this with the
    group. Often our emotional reactions to this process offer the most valuable learning

What is cultural humility?

Adapted from: Tervalon and Murray-Garcia (1998)

While studying institutional disparities in healthcare, researchers Tervalon and Murray-Garcia developed the term “cultural humility” to describe a lifelong process of self reflection and critique, commitment to understanding and respecting different viewpoints, and engaging with others humbly and authentically.

A unique framework for moving us toward equity, cultural humility:

  • addresses the role of power and privilege in a system, as well as the power imbalances in decision making
  • upholds each individual, or community group, as experts and teachers on their personal culture
  • asks us to meet each person where they are, suspend judgment, and resist imposing our own values, beliefs, and notions of right and wrong

We can use these concepts to help us:

  • understand and ensure our own campus commitment and consistency across policies and procedures
  • create time and space for sharing personal stories, worldviews, approaches to trust-building, team building, and community dynamics
  • recognize and challenge assumptions and biases, sharing the hidden rules of success, and redefining the cultural norms of our community.

Why talk about cultural humility?

The Saint Rose community is a microcosm of the larger world, country, and society and strives to make a safe, welcoming, and supportive space for students, staff, faculty, and the surrounding community.  As we are all aware, the past year has brought much hardship for the world related to the pandemic and in addition, a renewed and overdue reckoning with the racial injustices in our society, systems, and those experienced by the Black community since the inception of our country. Other communities, such as Native American, Latinx, Asian, immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with disabilities, senior citizens, and others have also been marginalized or victimized.  Cultural humility is a bridge for communities to begin a dialogue about experiences in a safe, brave, and hopefully, judgment-free zone.  On that note, here are some resources to help us dive into this theme even more!


Watch: (Pick One)


We encourage you to think about:

    • Are there some cultures or community traditions that it’s “accepted” to ridicule?
    • Are there ethnic jokes that might not be funny to certain populations?
    • Have you ever felt marginalized because of your race, ethnicity, nationality, religious beliefs or traditions, sexual orientation, or disability?
    • Have you ever enjoyed learning about someone’s culture? Have you ever asked a friend to teach you a word in their language, or a recipe from their cultural heritage?


After engaging in this work you may benefit from the following meditations related to this theme and what may come up for you emotionally.


Identifying, appreciating, and building your support systems

Science and evolution have demonstrated that social and human contact is vital to human existence and our continued survival.  On that note, the theme for today is “It Takes a Village” — or, why community and support are important in our lives and the lives of those around us.

The goals of inclusion are directly linked to this human need that we all have.  Hopefully, with some of the resources we have provided, you will identify how and what community is in your life and why to actively engage in strengthening it with others.

During this pandemic, this has been a repeated need people from all over the globe have identified as essential in their well-being, safety, and plan in addressing COVID-19.

Watch: (Pick One)

Reflect/ Engage: 

We’ve gathered some worksheets you can use to identify and think about your support systems, consider how they can help you, and work through any barriers that prevent you from asking for help:

  • Social support ( – This worksheet helps you explore your own support system and includes questions about barriers and how you can use supports to deal with current problems.

What is code-switching, and why do we do it?

Code-switching means “the modifying of one’s speech, behavior, appearance, etc. to adapt to different sociocultural norms.”  Code-switching is when a speaker alternates between two or more languages (or dialects or varieties of language) in one conversation.  

There are many reasons why people code-switch.  The main reason, however, is just to feel accepted in varying social situations.  It’s no secret that we instinctively fear being perceived as “the other,” which can cause anxiety, or even cause us to avoid interaction altogether. Thus, when we enter into a social situation we’re not familiar with, we sometimes code-switch to better fit in. This process happens intuitively and is a result of simply observing one’s surroundings, almost like an automatic translation device.

Code-switching has gained a bad reputation because it has been identified as the reason for people losing their identities or accommodating prejudices towards their social class, ethnicity, or religion. In a society that has privileged Eurocentric norms, culture, language, and behavior, and people, communities of color more often have to learn to navigate majority waters to survive and succeed.

Code-switching is not all bad, though. We often use code-switching to feel part of a particular social group, so it can be a way to facilitate communication and build solidarity.

Watch: (Pick One)

What do we mean when we say, “words have power?”

The words we say have meaning, for both the speaker and the listener. What we say and how we say it can drastically affect us, and others. Our worlds are made up of communication: emails, conversations, social-media posts, writing papers.

The words we use give us power — to entertain, uplift, provide comfort, educate, and imagine, but also to hurt, pass judgment, discourage, and even destroy another person. Choosing what you say and how you say it has a strong impact on yourself and those around you.

We’ve chosen a range of resources to help think about the words we use, the way we say them; identify, talk about, and respond to microaggressions (the hurtful comments that people make, sometimes without even being aware of it); how we should watch the words we use to describe ourselves and talk to ourselves; and how we can use our words to support and inspire ourselves, improve our outlook on situations, and promote a positive internal dialogue.

Read: (Pick One)

Watch: (Pick one)


Engage: ( Pick One )

We encourage you to consider the following:  

  • How do the words you speak impact those around you?
  • Are you using positive language when speaking of yourself or peers?
  • Have you ever received a microaggression? Was the speaker aware that you were hurt by it?
  • Have you ever made a microaggression against someone else? How did you react to that person’s response? Did you learn anything from the experience?

For the weekend, we have chosen two contrasting films — one fiction, one nonfiction – that explore the intersection of race, gender, wealth, and the criminal-justice system, and how our responses to events and to each other are affected by societal norms and filters. Kick back, relax, watch mindfully, and feel free to discuss with your friends or family!

Available on Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, ITunes, Vudu, Apple TV

  1. Crash (2004) Writer-director Paul Haggis interweaves several connected stories about race, class, family, and gender in Los Angeles in the aftermath of 9/11. Characters include a district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his casually prejudiced wife (Sandra Bullock), dating police detectives Graham (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito), a victimized Middle Eastern store owner and a wealthy African-American couple (Terrence Dashon Howard, Thandie Newton) humiliated by a racist traffic cop (Matt Dillon).
  2. 13TH | FULL FEATURE | Netflix 13th is a 2016 American documentary film by director Ava DuVernay. The film explores the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;”[3] it is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime.

Understanding and reflecting on our own biases

Bias is a preference in favor of — or against — a person, group of people, or thing. We learn our biases from others through conversations and other interactions, media portrayals, and our observations of how others act. These initial human reactions, which are often unconscious, are rooted in inaccurate information or reasoning, and are potentially harmful. 

Biases are simply a part of being human. At the same time, we can identify and challenge them. Once we know and accept we have biases, we can begin to recognize our own patterns of thinking. With awareness and a conscious effort, we have the power to change how we think and to challenge the negative or harmful biases within ourselves.

Engage with the following resources and learn more about bias and how it negatively affects the lives of others and ourselves.


  • (5 minutes) Talking About Race: Bias — National Museum of African American History & Culture (Smithsonian)
  • (10 minutes) Exploring our own stereotypes and biases — “Exploring Our Own Stereotypes and Biases,” Psychology Today, from 2016



  • (15 minutes) Take a testdiscover your own biases with Project Implicit’s hidden bias tests (hint: Everybody has biases)

We encourage you to think about the following: 

  • What are my biases, both positive and negative? 
  • Have I ever judged someone (whether out loud or silently) because of their color, sexual orientation, or educational or income level? Age? Weight? Appearance? Nationality?
  • Have I personally been negatively affected by bias? 
  • Are there mindsets held by my friends or family that make me uncomfortable? 
  • How might awareness of my own biases affect my future decisions and actions?

What is privilege?

Privilege can simply be defined as unearned advantages or immunity automatically granted to some people and not to others. Most of us can identify at least one privilege we may hold. Examples include privilege (or lack of it) accruing to our race or ethnicity, nationality, gender or sexuality, height or weight, age, ability status, religion, income, or educational level, among others. 

Systems of privilege maintain inequity. Privilege is often institutionalized in our laws and social structures.  Groups who benefit from systemic privilege are often unaware of the historical underpinnings to that privilege and the ways in which they benefit.

Engage with the following resources and learn more about privilege. 




  • (53 minutes) A class divided — “Frontline’s” documentary on a revolutionary 1968 experiment run by a teacher to demonstrate prejudice to third graders struggling to understand the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

We encourage you to consider the following: 

  • In the U.S., which groups are privileged and which groups are marginalized?  
  • How is privilege evidenced in representation in the media — in current events, TV, film, and literature? 
  • How has privilege affected you?
  • In which of your personal identities do you experience privilege? In which do you experience marginalization?

What exactly is intersectionality? 

We describe intersectionality as the complex way in which aspects of a person’s identities connect to affect discrimination or privilege. These intersecting categories can include gender identity, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, size, nationality, social capital, physical ability, political affiliation, and employment. 

Intersectionality is an analytical framework, with the goal of fostering equity, that looks at overlapping systems of power and describes how they marginalize populations. As opposed to earlier frameworks that treat each demographic factor in isolation, intersectionality attempts to qualify people’s complex multiple identities, which can afford either privilege or marginalization. For example, someone might be marginalized as well as have some privilege because she is a Black, hispanic, straight, cisgender female who holds a J.D. and is a mother and a U.S. citizen. 



We encourage you to consider the following: 

  • How do you define yourself? What intersecting categories comprise your identity?  
  • Which of your identities is most prominent to you? To others?
  • Which of your identities are most people unaware? Why is that identity hidden?
  • Are you drawn to (or repelled by) others because you see them as belonging to specific identity groups? 
  • Do you get to know people beyond the identity you assume they are?

How racism, bias, and privilege affect us all

Racism in the U.S., as in many other countries, is systemic – it is woven into the fabric of our institutions and policies, resulting in historic and ongoing social injustice and oppression of certain communities. In the U.S., communities of color are the most marginalized. 

Systemic racism is often invisible because it is subtle and is manifested in ways that seem “natural” to many of us, simply because we have become so used to them. By definition, it is entrenched in the systems that frame our home, educational, and work lives.

We usually don’t see the causes of systemic racism — only its results in society, i.e., we see that certain people are marginalized. So, we often justify it by rationalizing that certain people have done something to deserve being oppressed and marginalized, e.g., certain groups of people are born criminals, addicts, lazy, or less intelligent — or, conversely, “model minorities” are always successful because they are born intelligent and hardworking. Systemic racism is built into our social frameworks, including:

  • Employment, education, wealth, homeownership, and healthcare disparities
  • Racial disparities in policing and incarceration
  • Gerrymandering and voter suppression
  • Discriminatory immigration policies

Engage with the following resources to learn more about systemic racism and how it causes real harm to communities of color in the United States.




We encourage you to consider the following: 

  • Why do you think systemic racism exists? How would you talk to someone who denied its existence?
  • How does systemic racism reinforce commonly held biases? 
  • Can you think of specific examples of systemic racism? 
  • How does systemic racism operate within institutions of higher education? 

The international roots of the fight to vote

Adapted from the National Park Service

Our women’s suffrage history is usually told as a national one, beginning with the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, enumerating state campaigns and petitions to Congress, and culminating in the 19th Amendment. We tend to overlook how profoundly international the struggle was from the start. Suffragists from the U.S. collaborated with their sisters across national borders, corresponding to share strategies and encouragement, and spreading information and ideas through publications and meetings. Many were internationalist, understanding the right to vote as a global goal.

U.S. suffragists drew inspiration from the French, Haitian, Mexican, and Russian revolutions, and benefited from Enlightenment concepts, socialism, and the abolitionist movement. Many were immigrants who brought ideas from their homelands. Some women of color used the international stage to challenge U.S. claims to democracy in terms of not only women’s rights, but also in terms of racism in the U.S. — even in the suffragist movement itself. 

The International History of the US Suffrage Movement



We encourage you to consider the following:  

  • What was the impact of Native American women on the suffrage movement?
  • What social issues affecting all women are fought in a segregated manner?

For our second weekend, we have again chosen one fiction film and one nonfiction film as your food for thought. These explore systemic racism and social injustice, specifically in the context of young people — and how built-in inequities shape the choices that are available to students and their families. Take a little while for these thoughtful pieces — you can watch “Godzilla vs. Kong” anytime! 

  • Miss Virginia (Available on Netflix)
    Based on a true story, MISS VIRGINIA stars Emmy® winner Uzo Aduba as a struggling single mother who is losing her 15-year-old son to the rough streets of Washington, D.C. Unwilling to see him drop out and deal drugs, she places him in a private school. But when she can’t afford tuition, she launches a movement to change the system that is destroying him and thousands like him. Attacked and threatened by those who don’t want change — from corrupt politicians to the local drug lord — Virginia must discover depths of strength she never knew she had.
  • Waiting For Superman | Trailer #1 US (2010) (Available on: Netflix, Youtube, Google Play, Vudu, Apple TV)
    This film by director Davis Guggenheim investigates the public school system in the United States, and uncovers the many ways in which education in America has declined. Rather than relying largely on statistics and expert opinions, Guggenheim focuses on five students — Anthony, Bianca, Daisy, Emily and Francisco — portraying their own individual struggles and triumphs within problem-plagued academic settings where there are no easy solutions to the myriad issues that affect them.

We encourage you to think about:

  • How does systemic racism shape the opportunities available to underprivileged populations
  • What are some creative and resourceful ways that individuals fight to make their own opportunities (and pave the way for others)?
  • Can you think of other ways to fight systemic racism — on the individual, small-group, and organizational level?

Today, we dive into the history of systematic housing inequalities that has existed in the U.S for many decades. In 1933 the U.S faced a housing shortage, the federal government began programming explicitly designed to increase and segregate America’s housing stock. These efforts were implemented primarily for white middle and lower class families. African Americans and Latino families were excluded and forced into urban housing developments.

When the Housing Act of 1937 went into effect, low-income housing projects filled inner cities, replacing “slums” and creating “minority neighborhoods, or “ghettos”. Major road construction and suburbanization further segregated many American cities. Today’s activities provide a greater look into the history of unfair housing practices in the U.S. and its relevance in 2021.

Ever heard of the term Gentrification?





We encourage you to consider the following:  

  • What does my neighborhood look like?
  •  What is the significance of class stratification within black society?
  • How does this affect me?
  • What are the ongoing effects today?

The effects of racism are traumatic and may result in various emotions and behaviors that can impact an individual on the receiving end negatively. Despite the need for mental health care,  individuals who are impacted are also the ones who have the most difficulty accessing care for healing. Systemic racism and discrimination can affect access to health care due to social, economic, and environmental variables.

Today, we invite you to further your understanding between race and mental health. We encourage you to engage in conversation, and also self-reflect. Mental health does not discriminate, everyone can be impacted differently.

Spend some time today, and reflect on your own experiences as they relate to mental health.

Watch: (Pick two)


Read: (Pick two)

Listen: (Pick one)

We encourage you to consider the following:  

  • What does your healing process look like?
  • In what avenues do you receive your care and support through?
  • What does healthcare look like in your community? and culture? How accessible is it?
  • How can you be an advocate for individuals seeking healthcare in your community?

As we discussed in Week 2, diversity encompasses more than race. Discrimination are the policies and behaviors against individuals who share an identity and prejudice are beliefs and thoughts that can be towards various identities(stereotypes) such as:

  • Ableism
  • Sexism
  • Ageism
  • Classism
  • Antisemitisim
  • Homophobia
  • Transphobia

We encourage you to begin conversations around the narrative of “ism”.  Below are stories of individuals who have faced these isims and how the impacts of discrimination and prejudice have affected them.  

Labels don’t define you!

Watch: (Pick three)

We encourage you to consider the following: 

  • Have you been a victim of isms?
  • Have you witnessed it in your social circle?
  • Do you check yourself and others around stereotypes in isms?
  • What do you do to combat this?

Cultural Competency is defined as having knowledge of cultures outside of one’s own. It is the ability to effectively communicate with individuals across cultures. Individuals are not born with cultural competency, is it something that is actively learned throughout your lifetime. Through the learning of other cultures and developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences can individuals create respect for diversity and social justice.

Relationships are a powerful part of who we are. Cultural competency allows us to understand and effectively communicate with people from other cultures. Living in the U.S. we are always exposed to different cultures and practices. It is important that we act as  allies, constantly raising awareness and understanding. As you watch & read, consider ways you can show up for those who are different.


We encourage you to consider the following: 

  • What are the steps that you can take to becoming more culturally competent?
  • How do we bring awareness?
  • What are some barriers to cultural competency?
  • What is your understanding of cultural competency?

An Ally is an individual that cooperates, advocates, or helps another individual. Allies may not fully understand the experiences of an oppressed group but as an Ally you support, seek to understand, and advocate for them.

Please see below as Amelie Lamont describes a process commonly experienced by new Allies.

“Many would-be allies fear making mistakes that could have them labeled as “-ist” or “-ic” (racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, etc). But as aan ally, you’re also affected by a system of oppression. This means that as an ally, there is much to unlearn and learn—mistakes are expected. You need to own this as fact and should be willing to embrace the daily work of doing better.”





We encourage you to consider the following: 

  • What can you do as an Ally?
  • Think of one action you have done and one action you plan to do whether they are big or small as an Ally.
  • Make a list of 5 commitments you’d like to make to yourself after finishing the 21-Day challenge to strengthen your role as an Ally.

Antwone Fisher
Into the life of Antwone Fisher…  
Available on Hulu,HBO MAX, Amazon Prime, Youtube, Vudu,Google Play, Apple TV

Denzel Washington makes his triumphant directorial debut and Derek Luke shines in his first big-screen role in Antwone Fisher. Inspired by a true life story, Antwone Fisher tells the dramatic story of a troubled sailor (Luke) who embarks on a remarkable journey to confront his painful past–and connect with the family he never knew 


From the Inside Out: Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging

 Reflect & Take Action: 

  • How can I talk to my family, friends, and colleagues about what I have experienced and learned during this Challenge?
  • How do I identify individually with issues of diversity and inclusion? How do I view others?
  • What should inclusion look like?
  • How can inclusivity be developed and maintained?
  • What are my identities and in what ways have my identities impacted my life? Have any of my identities provided me privilege or been a source of discrimination in certain environments?