Speaking before hundreds Thursday in Springfield, the Rev. Darren Faulkner said that in order to understand our nation’s vast cultural diversity society needs to overcome many barriers.
“And to truly understand one another, we have to overcome our fears, overcome our stereotypes, overcome our generalizations; we have to overcome these things that sometimes put up a wall between us getting to know someone for who they are.” Faulkner said.
Faulkner, a 1991 graduate of Drury University, with degrees in criminal justice and political science. He has more than 20 years’ experience in counseling, prison ministry, and nonprofit management and has been an ordained minister since 1993. He serves on the advisory board of the PBS affiliate KCPT in Kansas City, is a member of the Heartland Community Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas City NAACP.
Faulkner said during the lecture that many trainings, public forums, and workshops have been conducted on diversity; however, little attention has been paid to some conflicting values and faulty assumptions.
“The assumption is that all people in a given racial or gender group are alike, but in fact, we are not,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner pointed out that we as a society often, in talking about diversity, loop everything into one category. But in fact, there are many differences within groups as there are between groups.
“Diversity is not just a matter of racial or gender, it’s about human uniqueness in all aspects. It’s about values, education, thinking pattern, lifestyles, sexuality, self-expression, personality, work styles, communication preferences, learning styles, family history, life experiences, socioeconomic status, political values, spiritual practices, and the list goes on.”
Another faulty assumption is that diverse employees are needed for diverse customers.
“The assumption is only ‘likes’ can sell to ‘likes,’” Faulkner said. “Only Hispanic can sell to Hispanics. It takes an Asian to sell to an Asian.”
While Faulkner didn’t deny that race and gender indeed impact individual and organizational behaviors, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Faulkner said it is these faulty assumptions and the mindsets that keep us in our own prison, and keep us from getting to know who people really are.
“It is my hope that one day there will be no need nor will there be any issues of diversity because we as people are under God indivisible and liberty will choose justice for all.”
Faulkner continued, “In addition to all the differences between human beings and their cultures, there are also many similarities between groups and between individuals.”
Faulkner’s hope for the diversity movement and for society in general is that the day will come when we will move beyond the limited categories of race and gender and look at each other as human beings.
Following his lecture, Faulkner told KMSU that his goal was to create a space for conversation around the issue of diversity. For students and the community, his hope is that they begin to disarm themselves and genuinely get to know one another.