Response to 'The Urgency of Now...' from Willette Neal

bravery change commitment crossroads diversity interculturalists march 2022 maria thacker race racisim understanding willette neal Mar 15, 2022

Director of Membership, Outreach and Diversity Willette Neal responds to the Opinion article by Maria Thacker, March 2022; read the original article here: Opinion March 2022

Maria, thank you. 

Thank you for taking a very difficult step in truly trying to understand privilege and its’ benefits.  As interculturalists, we are where some would deem “the crossroad.”  Will we do what is necessary to address the challenging times in which we find ourselves? Or will we continue to operate in a constant state of hope wanting things to ‘go back to the way they were. That notion of returning is impossible.  As I was recently reminded, the world isn’t changing—it has changed.  Interculturalists are in the best place and possess a mountain of resources to address the change. It will require introspection and reflection similar to your journey Maria. But, more importantly it will require a level of commitment and bravery.

We need voices that ring true and loud, that will not sit by silently, as we know from years of research, the levels and systems that can and will be enacted when people fear what they do not understand. This commitment may come in the form of an interracial book club. But as an interculturalist, it must also come in the way we train and teach others.  Our impact and reach can go beyond what we can ever imagine.  This will only work if we truly believe in the work we are doing. We can no longer address and explain intercultural interactions without including the impact that race and racism plays across the globe.  It pains me to hear that interculturalist are shying away from the conversations around diversity and race because they are uncomfortable.  If not us, then who? If we are not the ones to address how cultures are interacting, then who?  Thanks, Maria, for being brave and committed.

Willette Neal, Director

Membership Outreach and Diversity