Dr. Dinkins was invited to provide remarks to help kick off the 8th Annual SCHout Diversity Conference on Saturday, January 28, 2023. The conference, led by students for students, was attended by 200 high schoolers and faculty from over a dozen area schools. Over the course of several months, 40 SCH students prepared for their role, working as facilitators, running workshops, and organizing this all-inclusive annual event. Dr. Dinkins’ inspiring prompt is shared here.
We believe diversity is a condition of excellence. Embracing a diverse, inclusive community is fundamental to providing the most rigorous, globally competitive education. At SCH, we aim to engage, understand, and celebrate the broad range of human experiences and perspectives. Through our curriculum, professional development, community-centered events, and daily interactions, we are committed to cultivating empathy and inclusion, and to nurturing the authentic expression of every individual.
In a sense, today is about asking, What does future us wish we would start doing now? We need to spend as much time doing that thing today! In another sense, today’s conference provides an answer: it’s that thing we need to do as much of as possible.
Can we all get along? Are we able to hold a feisty conversation without ripping each other to shreds with verbal uppercuts? A vigorous debate over this perennial question is stationed at virtually every post, abroad and here at home. Over the years, we have been privy to real-life lessons on the yesses and the nos to the question, the upside and the underside. We just don’t turn and talk enough; sometimes we simply aren’t sufficiently self-critical or intellectually humble enough to hear the person on either side of us. Our ability to listen to one another has been impaired, if not by the times in which we live, then by the ways in which we live them. Being too ferocious in our views makes it challenging to temper ourselves when we need to most. Things we say may arouse intense emotions. Hurt can happen in our halls, in our classrooms, on the playing field, in the tents, even accidentally. If there are moments when this happens, we need to pause to acknowledge what has happened and offer support, redirection, and correction.
And we can do this productively. There is no shortage of opportunities to deepen our understanding of the power of thoughtful disagreement.
And that’s why we are here: to learn and celebrate diversity through meaningful conversation. Let us be inspired by rich questions, sharp thinking, and frank self-examination; let us appreciate the humanity emerging from it. Today we exercise our hearts and minds and voices in service to a preferred future. Today is a stimulant for change, perhaps a pebble that will have a ripple effect in the lake that is our nation. If we're going to be fundamentally committed to change, we must act. It is my hope that today is another step towards empowering individuals, strengthening communities, bridging barriers, creating solutions to social problems, and moving us closer to a future we can be proud of.
Again, welcome! May your voice—and your ear—be a pebble.