January 2022
Centering the most vulnerable
Like many of you, we've been following the news about the latest COVID-19 variant and the updated guidelines from the CDC.

It's informed the decisions that we've made regarding our programming and how we use our office space. As a team, we have been having ongoing conversations about what we feel safe doing and how that changes as we get new information.

One thing that has been foremost in these conversations has been safeguarding our family and loved ones who are high risk or unvaccinated. It's not a question of being for or against the vaccine for us. Rather, it's this - if we center the most vulnerable, what is the right thing to do?

We are especially thinking of folks who are not able to advocate for themselves and who may lack the autonomy to do so. For example, under 25% of children aged 5-11 years have received the first dose of the vaccine according to the CDC. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that child COVID-19 cases have overtaken previous peaks than in earlier phases of the pandemic. For this reason we are consistently reevaluating what gathering safely looks like, and what formats we use while we continue this work.

We recognize that there are varying levels of comfort and at the same time, we are being intentional about how we navigate keeping our team, our families, and our communities healthy.
The Inclusive Communities office is closed today for Martin Luther King Jr. Day to give our team the opportunity to participate in acts of service.

We are putting some extra attention today on advocacy for voting rights and equity in voter representation. We have seen legislation recently introduced in multiple states that would deepen voter suppression and disenfranchisement. At the federal level, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act were introduced in the Senate to protect and preserve equitable voting rights. Last Thursday, they were combined into the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.

Our call to action is for you to contact your Senators and let them know how important voting rights are to the preservation of our democracy. You can read more about voting rights issues here or read an explanation of the bills here.

Our friends at Share Omaha have put together this list of more ways to take meaningful actions in our community.
R.E.A.D.I for Love
R.E.A.D.I - Respect, Equity, Access, Diversity, Inclusion

Fellow DEI practitioners! You're invited to join us on February 10th from 5-7pm (CST) at The Slowdown for a fun valentine's day themed meet and greet. We are hosting this event in partnership with the Greater Omaha Chamber's CODE and Joe Gerstandt.

Attendance is limited so be sure to RSVP early. Proof of vaccination is required for entry.
AAPI Table Talk is up next
Our Table Talk schedule resumes on January 25, 2022 with AAPI Table Talk on the Need to Acknowledge the "PI" Folks. We have decided to keep our Table Talk events virtual through February due to current prevalence of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Stay tuned for updates on our event format in the future.

Check out the last Omaha Table Talk below!
Omaha Table Talk
An Interfaith and Atheism Dialogue
Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu
A person is a person through other people
“Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu” It means I am because you are.

Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted for many things and I feel a responsibility to share his words on courage in this blog. He said:

“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency ask the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

We have a responsibility to our humanity. We have a responsibility to step into our courage when it comes to humanity and in doing so, we are doing what is right. And sometimes doing what is right for humanity is seen as going against our own self-interest. When we push aside our fear, we are tapping into our greatest strength because courage, as Roy Bennett says, “is feeling fear, not getting rid of fear, but knowing something is more important than fear and taking action in the face of fear.” Too often, we abandon what we know is collectively our responsibility to others in society; to our greater humanity, because we are afraid of how these choices will impact us individually. However, the truth is that, when we turn our back on others we lose ourselves and in turn our connection to humanity.

In the past few years we found ourselves in a battle of who is right and who is wrong, who is good and who is evil. But we forget that there are few concrete absolutes in this world. There is gray in everything because in our humanity we are more than just one thing. We are complex beings. We are a multitude. There is a duality of all of our circumstances and until we have the courage to fight for ourselves, whether we love each other or not, to fight for the humanity of our people, our communities, our world, we will not be whole. We must have the courage to fight against the status quo in defense of humanity and when we do not do so, we are betraying ourselves. “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” I am because you are.

Desmond Tutu says, “Ubuntu is the essence of human being. It speaks to the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours and I am human because I belong.” We all belong to each other and for each other, and until we start to work as a community and a society to creatively build a world in which there are no hierarchies, there is no sexism, there's no heterosexism, there is no racism-- We will never truly experience the beauty and the glory that is Ubuntu, to be one because we are of each other.

So that is my challenge to each of us, to fight for the humanity and the pieces that we know are right for each other. We have to be willing to take the risk of getting it wrong. As Ken Robinson says, “If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.” And the world needs us to come up with something original. The world is calling for us to be greater than we have been before. We need us to be creative and brave and authentic and human in order to create the world that we all can thrive within.

There is this fear, this fear that stops us from trying something different, from doing something new, from being something different yet extraordinary.

Osho says, “To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” So let us dance in the light of creativity and difference in celebration of humanity. Let us dance in the joy of courage. Let us dance in the face of fear because as the Zimbabwe born and Canadian based philosopher and author Matshona Dhliwayo says “It takes greater faith to dance in the dark, than to rest in light.”

We have a choice. Being a human being is given, but keeping our humanity is a choice. So what will you choose?