History and circumstances are asking all of us to examine vestiges of the past that continue to plague us today and, at the same time, embrace deeper insights of respectfully being with each other. As we craft impactful responses to the requests, tremendous understanding, a willingness to be vulnerable, and a honing of our due diligence skills will be necessary. This timely book adds further to what we know works and escorts new perspectives and considerations since bias, prejudice, discrimination, and micro and macro aggressions continue to be evident in the caregiving and therapeutic processes.
Moving beyond the rhetoric requires well-defined goals and methodologies for achieving them. Not only do we need to stretch the minds of students and faculty about diversity, we also need to talk about the manifestations of inclusive excellence. Broader than just race, gender, or ethnicity, diversity includes cultural differences such as age, generational differences, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion, body alterations (i.e., tattoos, piercings), body size, disability, marital status, veteran status, professional experience, and educational background. The intersections of all these differences can and often do—in both bold and subtle ways, wearing the bright garments of uniqueness—remind us that all encounters are cultural encounters. Nevertheless, the uniqueness provides the context for care, and this must never be considered as insignificant.
Invisible dynamics related to power and perspective always exist because of people’s cultural awareness and proficiency. Making them visible helps to explain the tensions and dynamics encountered when people come together to create solutions for the future. Understanding these concepts and applying the strategies covered in the book chapters can help improve you and the preparation of your students as well as team members—be they faculty or other healthcare providers with their interprofessional experiences. So what and how do we make the spaces in our places of the mind and the physical environment? What good, timely, and wicked questions worthy of answers and why this book was written! Use it for some action-centered pedagogy.
After reading this work, I was reminded of something Nietzsche once said in reference to Diogenes, the Greek philosopher living in the fourth century BC. Before I provide the quote, I should share a bit more about this philosopher. Diogenes now is thought of as an unconventional thinker with a cutting wit and repartee who taught his fellow citizens largely by pantomimic gesture and example. One day, he was reported to have gone about the city in clear daylight with a lit lantern looking about as if he had lost something. When people came up to ask what he was trying to find, he answered: “Even with a lamp in broad daylight, I cannot find a real human being,” and when people pointed to themselves, he chased them with a stick shouting, “It is a real human being I want.” Bizarre as this may seem, Diogenes’ antics did jar the moral consciousness of some, and even now, it nudges us to reflect on the question we are still asking and should always ask: What is the nature of a human being? And what does it mean to ask this question? Now as promised, the Nietzsche quote that came to the forefront of mind was, “Whoever is searching for the human being first must find the lantern.” Like Diogenes, Sally Ellis Fletcher’s book is a lamp throwing some light on the complexity of how to be culturally relevant. I recommend it for your teaching, curriculum adaptations, and personal growth.
–G. Rumay Alexander, EdD, RN, FAAN
Professor and Director-Office of Multicultural Affairs
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing