Last weekend we headed out for a short drive to the Ballona Wetlands.It was my first trip there, although it seems I've passed it a number of times on the way down to LAX. Even in the span of an easy, short walk around the perimeter of the freshwater marsh, we were able to see a number of bird species (including a new-to-me bird, the cinnamon teal). And I got some decent camera time in with the flora:
After, we headed up to the Getty Villa, where I got a penultimate stroll through the special exhibition Underworld: Imagining the Afterlife. It's only up until this Monday, March 18, so I'm glad I got to spend so much time with it. I especially enjoyed seeing some of the objects from the Walters Art Museum that were the subject of the first paper I wrote in my PhD program, including this sensitive, mournful siren:
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about diversity in cultural institutions, higher education, and digital scholarship - the three often intersecting areas in which I work. Earlier this week, I was bemoaning feeling powerless about my very data-focused and mechanical position as not really being a venue in which I could affect positive change and inclusion. How could I work towards diversity when my job is literally to edit spreadsheets of early 20th century German auction data all day?
Motivated by ongoing inclusion initiatives and discussion at the ground level in my place of work in the museum field, as well as in my field of Classics, and in the digital humanities and digital scholarship, I decided to reflect on the ways in which I try to build and advocate for diversity and inclusion. All three areas are having deep and often uncomfortable conversations about how to best work collectively towards inclusion and equity. From my perspective, here are some personal small steps:
In my post-PhD research:
“Soft skills” efforts that don’t fit into a neat box:
There's nothing particularly magnanimous in any of these actions, and I have so much to learn and do. Being involved in an active diversity group at my place of work has taught me to listen, to take action where I can, and to not wait around, hoping for change. We have a lot of work to do - and this list is not meant to self-congratulate myself at all, but to reflect a little in the hopes of continuing to grow and make the world even just a little bit more equitable. I was moved by this infographic that Sara Goldrick-Rab posted on twitter the other day, illustrating the differences between equality, equity, and the full removal of barriers to which we must ultimately strive:
The image (the original of which was made by Craig Foehle) clarifies so well how we must all work to create equity and eventually break down systemic barriers that perpetuate inequality. Even though Dr. Goldrick-Rab used it in the context of higher education and community colleges, it’s equally applicable to so many of my own interests: museums, Classics, and the digital humanities. It is a clear image that I will keep in mind as I keep moving forward in my professional career.