When we think about Diversity, we may imagine a crowd of faces. A group of people varying in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other differences that make up each of us as individuals. However, just because we put together this group of diverse individuals does not necessarily mean that a goal has been met. It was said that “Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.” In 2019, Harvard Professor Anthony Jack gave a Ted Talk to discuss this issue: Diversity is not inclusion. (Medrut, 2021)
Professor Anthony Abraham Jack is a Ph.D. from Harvard University, but he did not start life at the top. In his message, he discusses growing up in a suburb of Miami, Florida, and hints at the culture shock he experienced when attending college as a young man. He also gets emotional when discussing the difficulties of being one of the “privileged poor” students going to a large university. On the other hand, he also manages to bring humor into what could be a very bleak topic. His extensive knowledge and experience with the topic of discussion are evident throughout his presentation. These factors make Jack very easy and pleasant to listen to and contribute to helping the message really sink in and take root in your subconscious. This is very important if a speaker wants to make a difference truly. (Anthony, n.d.)
Diversity is not inclusion. This powerful message needs not only to be discussed but understood. When considering Diversity and inclusion today and how we can bring more people together to build stronger companies, communities, and even with college, we think about including people from various backgrounds for all to get a chance at the same experiences. However, despite our efforts, we continue to miss the mark. Prof. Jack’s point is simply that just because we put a diverse group of people in the same institution, it does not mean they have access to—or are included in—all the activities and commodities the experience offers. The institution of Prof. Jack’s discussion is colleges and universities—specifically Ivy League schools. Jack uses two examples: the need to clarify the meaning of office hours to students who do not recognize forming relationships with faculty as a crucial part of higher education; and the impact of schools closing during holiday breaks when some students only have the campus to call home. While he only cites these specific issues, he makes it clear that there are other areas that many take for granted but could be changed to resolve the issue at hand.
While this message was delivered three years ago, it is just as relevant now as it was then. These are issues that can still be applied to areas outside of colleges and universities but to businesses, organizations, and even neighborhoods and communities. This point could have been made ten years ago or twenty years from now and could still be timed well for the current situation regarding Diversity. Sadly, this is a genuine issue and will most likely continue being so for years to come. With that being said, Prof. Jack choosing to bring this topic to a Ted Talk—which is aired via YouTube—was probably the best medium to discuss this issue. It can be watched by millions over the years so that no matter the passage of time, it can continue to engage and enlighten for as long as the internet endures.
During Jack’s presentation, he is dressed professional, but not to the point of showing off his status as a leading educational figure at one of the top schools in the country. If anything, he makes a point of ensuring his audience is comfortable, making them laugh when things get a little too serious, and showing emotion when the topic hits a little closer to home than we realize. His presentation shows a true passion, making the message even more relatable and sustaining.
Since the start of the Civil Rights Movement, we as Americans have been working to put all humans on a level playing field, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious views. Even though decades have passed, we are still struggling with the same issues, but steps have been taken in the right direction. As a result, we can truly see a mixing pot of different people wherever we go today. However, this is a battle that is far from over. Simply mixing people together accomplishes nothing until the mix starts working together. That is the true message of Professor Anthony Jack’s TedTalk. He wants us to understand that we all see the world a little differently, and it is important to take that into consideration when a group contains such a variety of people.
Anthony, J. (n.d.). About Me. Anthony Abraham Jack. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from https://anthonyabrahamjack.com/aboutme
Jack, A. (2019, June 13). On Diversity: Access Ain’t Inclusion | Anthony Jack | TEDx Cambridge. YouTube. https://youtu.be/j7w2Gv7ueOc
Medrut, F. (2021, February 10). 50 Inspiring Diversity Quotes for the Workplace and Classroom. Goalcast. https://www.goalcast.com/diversity-quotes/