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“Where do I begin?”

This is a question that resonates among many folks who may want to better understand ADEIJ (Accessibility, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice). There is a common misconception that just because someone is LGBTQIA+, female, BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color), a Veteran, a person with disAbilities, or has been marginalized, minoritized, discriminated against, oppressed, etc., they are an expert in ADEIJ. ADEIJ is a dynamic lifelong learning journey with many paths. There are a lot of free trainings, courses, videos, and resources available to compliment your journey:

Today’s DEI word –“Racelighting”

Racelighting is “the process whereby people of color question their own thoughts and actions due to systematically delivered racialized messages that make them second-guess their own lived experiences and realities with racism.” Racelighting is distinguished from gaslighting when the messages used to invalidate the victim are racialized in nature. Ultimately, these messages lead Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to question themselves.

Learn more about Racelighting 

Power of Names

“If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.” - Nonyem Aduba (Uzo Aduba’s mother)

Why are names important? Our name is our primary identity. Saying someone’s name in their original format is key in developing inclusive and welcoming spaces. It ensures respect from the first interaction, helps create instant rapport, fosters a sense of belonging, and builds lasting relationships. Research shows that mispronouncing students’ names can have a lasting impact.

In Gerardo Ochoa’s TedxTalk, he discusses his experience with his name and the Three (3) Kinds of Name-sayin’ which Jennifer Gonzalez coined, but also adds "Evader" to the list. Ochoa also shares how getting a name wrong cost one company over $14 billion. He then provides three tips for how to pronounce someone’s name.

As we start a new academic year, remember that you play a major role in making new trustees, new students, new faculty, and new staff feel welcomed and part of our community, and it starts with saying their names properly.

“A person’s name is to them the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” - Dale Carnegie

Equity in Broadband

On June 26, 2022, Congresswoman Cindy Axne (representing the 3rd District of Iowa) hosted the Rural Broadband Roundtable with USDA Iowa Leaders in Woodward, Iowa to discuss the work on expanding coverage for Iowans. In 2020, the world had to embrace digital transformation at an exponential rate due to COVID-19 and reimagine technology’s role in our everyday lives. COVID-19 also exposed the digital divide.

“Access to fast and reliable broadband is essential to go to school, go to work, and participate in the economy.” – Congresswoman Cindy Axne

What's a digital divide? It's an economic and social inequity regarding access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies as defined by Dr. Wilmon Brown.

How do we address it? The state was designated $100 million to expand affordable broadband internet in Iowa through the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. 

Recommendations: The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) lists Broadband Internet as one of the top three challenges for rural community colleges in their February 2021 report and recommend that we:

  1. Redefine broadband as a public utility.  

  2. Legalize municipal broadband.

  3. Expand the FCC’s E-Rate Program.

Additionally, ACCT is hosting a webinar on September 12 from 2-3 PM CST to get a larger understanding of the state of play in the state and local leadership, school systems, internet providers, community-based organizations, and edtech organizations that have a hand in helping solve this problem.

See the webinar page for more information and registration.

How else can you help bridge the digital divide at your college? Start with a needs assessment.

Pride Month

How much do you know about the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement? Take this quiz to find out:

Religion in Equity and Diversity

Faith and religion are many times forgotten when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Also, religion can be a difficult topic for discussion especially when one of the rules is not to discuss religion with others. Learn some key terms and concepts about religion and religious bias ( to help guide conversations and increase understanding. 

What phase are you in the Inclusive Leader Continuum™?

Take the Inclusive Leader Self-Assessment™ at and enter code JBSpeaks.

Want to learn actionable insights for leading in today’s changing and uncertain environment, creating workplaces that are equitable and inclusive for all members, and becoming a purpose-driven organization? Check out this podcast at

Do you know your DEI terms?

Test your knowledge at to learn what five terms Americans had the most and least familiarity with based on quiz results, and understanding of the terms by generation and gender (

Take a Test: Measuring Implicit Bias

Measure your attitudes and beliefs by taking an Implicit Association Test (IAT) - - designed by Project Implicit.

Project Implicit is committed to challenging organizational and institutional disparities through data-driven research and education. Project Implicit produced new ways of understanding attitudes, stereotypes, and other hidden biases that influence perception, judgment, and action. They translate academic research into practical applications for addressing diversity, improving decision-making, and increasing the likelihood that practices are aligned with personal and organizational values.

Using Pronouns

The acronym LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term for folks who are not cisgender and/or are not heterosexual. The “plus” added to LGBTQIA acknowledges the many identities which LGBTQIA does encompass. Regardless of someone’s identity, it is imperative to respect the words someone uses to describe themselves.

Learn LGBTQIA+ terms and why language matters.

What about pronouns?  Why do they matter?

For queer, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and transgender people, he/she pronouns may not fit, can create discomfort and dissonance, and can cause stress and anxiety. Using pronouns is like calling someone by their given name. Using the correct pronouns can be a way to respect someone, and it promotes an inclusive environment. Lastly, it is important to understand that gender and sexual orientation are extremely private topics of conversation, so when someone chooses to share their pronouns with you, it is not an invitation to ask probing, personal questions about their gender, sex, and/or preferences.

Learn more about pronouns and why it matters here and here

Today’s word - “Intersectionality”

Intersectionality is the balance between our merging identities and the singular lived experience that comes as a result. Coined in 1989 by Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw to refer to the compounding impacts of simultaneous racial and gender discrimination and now widely applied within many social justice spaces, intersectional theory gives language to the complex layers that make up each of us, uncovers where they intersect, and highlights how we then experience the world as a result. Without it, efforts to address injustice, inequality, and inequity will never fully meet the needs of the people impacted.

Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American Indian Heritage Month (Native American Heritage Month) which first started as an effort to gain recognition for the contributions of First Americans to the establishment, development, and growth of the USA. This initiative dates back to 1915 and was consolidated into a full month in 1990 by a joint resolution approved by President George H. W. Bush. Similar proclamations under various names (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

In 2020-21, Native American Community College students made up 0.5% (626) of the 123,513 students in credit programs in Iowa, and 0.3% (424) of the 146,991 students in non-credit programs in Iowa. It is projected that this Fall there will be a 0.7% decrease in Native American students in Iowa Community Colleges and a 1.9% increase nationwide.

How can we best support our Native American students?

One way is learning more about Native American histories, traditions, cultures, and languages. Research shows that nearly 80% of people in the U.S. know little to nothing about Native Americans, and 90% of schools do not teach about Native American history past 1900.

Here are some sources to get you started on learning more.

In recent years, Native American representation has been on the rise and is changing Hollywood and pop culture. Such representation can be seen in Reservation Dogs, and Spirt Rangers and more stories are making their way to the news. 

Winter Holiday Celebrations

It's the holiday season! December and January are filled with many holidays and celebrations around the world. Christmas is one of the most popular and is celebrated in over 160 countries, but some of the following also happen during these months: St. Nicholas DayKrampus NightSt. Lucia DayLas PosadasHanukkahWinter Solstice (DongzhiTojiShab-e YaldaShalakoSoyal), KwanzaaBoxing DayEpiphany Day (The Twelve Days of Christmas/Twelfth Day/Three Kings’ Day, Día de Los Reyes), Genna (Ledet), Lohri, and Makar Sankranti. There are other holidays and celebrations that may not have made this list, so we encourage you to find those and share with others!

Happy New Year!

Although many of us welcomed the new year on January 1st, nearly 2 billion people worldwide will not celebrate their new year until January 22nd! The Lunar New Year marks the arrival of spring and start of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. The Lunar New YearChinese ChunjieVietnamese TetKorean SolnalTibetan Losar, or Spring Festival, is an opportunity for families to reunite. This celebration typically prompts the world’s largest annual migration.

If you celebrated the new year on January 1st or will be celebrating on January 22nd, a new year is a golden opportunity to reflect on your DEI journey, and more importantly an opportunity to create personal DEI goals for 2023! Here’s a goal setting guide to aid.  

Black History Month

While many of us are familiar with national civil rights events and figures, important Iowans and events that happened in our state are often forgotten:

Iowa has a rich history which includes African American Iowans who influenced the world. The Iowa Department of Human Rights has many resources to learn more about African American culture, history, and also the 2022 Status of African American in Iowa.

Cultural Appropriation 

cultural appropriation: a term used to describe the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another

In Arlin Cuncic’s article, Cuncic states “Cultural appropriation is the social equivalence of plagiarism with an added dose of denigration.” She emphasizes how using cultural appreciation instead of cultural appropriation can result in deeper understanding and respect across cultures.

For example: a non-Indigenous person wearing a ceremonial headdress as a costume is cultural appropriation.  Cultural appreciation would be to read, watch, listen etc. to Indigenous people share their stories of the importance of ceremonial dress to their people. 


diaspora: a scattered population whose ancestral homelands lie in a separate geographic locale

Historically, diaspora referred to Jews living outside of Palestine or modern Israel and to the mass dispersion of a population from its indigenous territories. Used to describe the forced displacement of certain peoples, diaspora also describes those who identify with a geographic location but do not reside in it. The top 5 countries with the highest of emigrants are India, Mexico, Russia, China, and Syria, but the countries with the biggest share of their native-born population living in the diaspora are Guyana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Syria, and JamaicaKingsley Aikins shares how to develop strategies for harnessing the power and influence of their diasporas.

Photo of dictionary page for the word "diaspora"

Women's History Month

March 8th was International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and also a call to action for accelerating women's equality. The whole month of March is also Women’s History Month, commemorating and encouraging the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.  Many are unaware of the extent of women's contributions to society, whether past or present, and acknowledging women’s contributions is part of writing Iowa’s history. The Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame and the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice are ways to honor Iowa women!

Black and white photo of women's suffrage protests with signs reading "Mr President How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty"

Equity vs. Equality

Equity and equality are not synonymous. The dictionary definition of equity is the quality of being fair and impartial. Equality is defined as the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. To delve in deeper, equity recognizes each person has varying circumstances and needs, meaning different groups of people need different resources and opportunities allocated to them to thrive. Equality, on the other hand, is giving everyone the exact same resources across the board, regardless of individual or groups of people’s actual needs or opportunities/resources already provided to them.

There are generational disparities between the understanding of Equality vs. Equity. A survey of 1,073 Americans across demographics and all 50 states, showed that 66.95% of Baby Boomers, 77.66% of Gen X, 76.35% of Millennials, and 82.65% of Gen Z understood the difference.

Graphic  showing visual representation of equity and equality using shapes.

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