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Join “Adventures in DiversCity” TODAY!

“Adventures in DiversCity” is a new community-wide diversity program sponsored by the Human Rights Commission and Mill Race Center.   If you decide to register and join the “Adventure”, this is how “Adventures in DiversCity” works:Each participant receives a Diversity Plan at the kickoff of the event. The kickoff event is on August 23rd, at 5:30 pm in City Hall.   The goal is for each participant to compete for a grand prize by completing their diversity plan.   

Each plan has a variety of diverse events ranging from different religious, ethnic, inter-generational, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender), and other events.   We’ll help participants explore various community diversity events and programs that many have often wondered about –  for instance, we’ll help participants find out what happens at the Chinese New Year’s Celebration or what kinds of films are shown at the CAMEO Film Festival!

Participants will walk away with a new understanding of cultures, religions, or lifestyles different from their own. Our goal is reached when cross-cultural understanding occurs!

Along the way, there will be a few incentives to keep our participants motivated to attend as many events and programming activities as possible. 

At our finale event, the winner(s) will be announced and the prizes will be awarded.  

With our “Adventures in DiversCity”, not only will we promote diversity, we will also raise awareness of the many diverse organizations and their events to the community that some residents may be unaware of.

So to register, we are requesting you to complete an entry form. Email to request an entry form or call us at 812-376-2532 to request an entry form in the mail. 

You also can check out our Facebook page:

If you have any more questions, feel free to contact the Human Rights office at 812-376-2532.


The DiversCity Team 

Ivy Tech Gallery of Fine Art & Design to host art exhibition on post-apartheid South Africa

The Gallery of Fine Art & Design at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus/Franklin will host a photographic exhibit titled “Looking for the Rainbow: A cultural collage of the Western Cape Province in post-apartheid South Africa.”  The exhibit will run from May 21 through August.  An opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, June 14, from 5:00 until 6:00 p.m. in the gallery.  A panel discussion, focusing on current human rights in post-apartheid South Africa, including William Rasdell, the exhibit artist; Gil Palmer, president of the Human Rights Commission; and John Roberts, dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Ivy Tech, will follow from 6:00 until 7:00 p.m.  The public is invited to both the reception and the panel discussion.

The focus of the exhibit, according to the photographer, is for the images “to present a portrait of a people as they strive to achieve Nelson Mandela’s vision of the Rainbow Nation.”  The photographs portray the mixed race of the “Coloured” communities in the Western Cape Province, who, although the largest cultural group in the province, consider themselves the most marginalized.  Today, under Black majority rule, this group is experiencing extremely high unemployment, drug abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and gang violence, not unlike during the days of apartheid.

The internationally-known photographer, William Rasdell, has enjoyed solo and group exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the University of Indianapolis, the Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian & Western Art, and the Domont Gallery, all in Indianapolis.  Elsewhere, he has shown at the Universal Art Gallery in Memphis; the Academica San Alejandro Academy of Fine Art in Havana, Cuba; the Richmond Museum of Art; the Evan Lurie Gallery in Carmel, Indiana; the Duotone Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa; the Fortezza da Basso in Florence, Italy; and the Fire Patrol #5 Gallery in New York.

Information:  Jan Banister, or 812-374-5148.

A Thought for Columbus

“Broaden your Horizons and BE the Difference”

By Frances Jordan

On April 19th, the Human Rights Commission celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its existence, and what a celebration it was. Yet, the work must continue within the community. Many times when I am asked where I work, I reply, “The Human Rights Commission, we are a civil rights agency”.  Occasionally I get the response, “well, what do you do”?  My response is always “We file complaints based on  race, sex, gender, religion, disability, natural origin/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity”….  that occur in the city limits in employment, education, housing, and sometimes public accommodation and credit. Now after I say that mouthful, more often than not, and to my dismay,  they respond, “Well, we don’t have a lot of those issues these days”.  This may be true, if we compare the way America was just 50 years ago. Today’s  society has become more aware of diversity and inclusion, and removing the bigot that lives inside all of us, but there are many times those same acts of discrimination occur today and we cannot ignore them. I think we often look at the civil rights movement and see how bad it got for blacks and other minority groups that we trivialize the issues that occur today. Discrimination against sex, race, religion, disability, etc. still happens today and in a REAL way.  We as a people have come so far and should not be so quick to dismiss instances of discrimination that still are occurring. We cannot turn a deaf ear because we as a people are better, but we are not perfect, and we will never obtain that unreachable goal of perfection, but we can try to reach as far as possible.

            “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe. There are new challenges and for different groups of people, such as the LGBT community, and persons with mental illnesses, to name just a few. We as a community continue to struggle with these issues, and sometimes our values or beliefs do conflict with these issues and tell us how to make choices and operate, and that’s okay. But discrimination is not a value or belief that anyone should hold dear -  we can never give up on a spirit of equality for all -  without that spirit we can never truly be a welcoming community. Each of us must continue to Broaden our Horizons….

One thing I have learned since working for the Human Rights Commission for almost a year is that.  In addition to applying the law, broadening one’s horizons in is important to creating understanding among other groups and eliminating discrimination.  For example, I’m a black female. And religiously, I am Seventh - Day Adventist, therefore, I am a Christian.  But my religious experience is very different than many other Christians. I have had my share of experiences or of discrimination and stereotypical thinking and behavior, but never was I aware of the needs of say, persons with disabilities until now. Most Americans are not unless they have a family member or friend who is disabled, or if they have aging parents whose needs have changed. Beyond never parking in a handicapped parking spot, I was not aware.

So in my new job, as we plan for events or activities, or just based on stories from clients, I became more familiar with concerning myself with the needs of persons in wheelchairs, persons who are blind, deaf, autistic, have cerebral palsy, struggle with mental illness, and the list could go on.  What I find is that my world was opened to a new group of people, and I find myself more aware of their issues and I EDUCATE others whenever I get a chance. So what group are you overlooking? Or what BUBBLE are you staying in?  You must broaden your horizons in order to make you and your community better - you cannot depend on others to be the  difference. 

Please Join Us 2012 Annual Dinner

“Breaking Barriers and

Building Bridges for the Future through

Diversity and Inclusion”


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Commons

300 Washington Street

Columbus, IN 47201

6:30 p.m.


Keynote Speaker:

Mr. Luke Visconti

Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Inc Media LLC



William R. Laws Human Rights Award

 Benjamin M. King Essay Contest Awards

J. Irwin Miller Art Contest Awards


Tickets: $30.00 per person

¨ Advance Purchase Required

¨ RSVP by Friday April 13, 2012

¨ Vegetarian/Vegan meals available with advance order

¨ The Commons is wheelchair accessible, for other accommodations

or information on financial assistance in purchasing tickets,

please call: 376-2532

Or email:


SPOTLIGHT on Welcoming Community

When you were hired as Vice 

Chancellor of  IUPUC, IUPUI 

Chancellor Charles R. Bantz said 

of you, “Dr. Wafa has the right 

blend of skills, experience, and 

leadership that will advance 

IUPUC and benefit the 

community,”. Why do you believe 

that this is true? Is there an 

experience that sticks out that led 

you to be a great fit for Columbus 


There are many experiences 

throughout the years, and not one 

specific incident but several. I grew 

up in Kuwait, where I was not a 

minority, and I came to the US in 1982 

as a student. I went to school in South 

Carolina, where things were very 

different than my life in Kuwait. My wife 

wears the hijab, we looked different and 

it was very challenging in both good and 

bad ways. Alertness to the issues 

became heightened as the voice of the 

minority is difficult to be heard. I learned 

that from my life in South Carolina. 

When we moved to Evansville, I was 

able to learn about issues that I have 

never had to deal with before in my life. 

I became engaged in the community 

and the school to help educate people

about my faith and beliefs mostly 

because of our children and being 

involved with them as they were 

growing up. I was pulled into the 

interfaith commission of Evansville. In 

that environment we learned about each 

other and beyond just our religions, the 

people in the group were Jewish, Catholic, 

Unitarian, and I, of course am Muslim. But 

we learned to be respectful to each other 

and realized that there was much work to 

be done. 

No matter what religion, intentional 

messages of hate cause war. It is amazing 

what human beings will do to one another. 

We should learn from our historical events 

and any problems that have come before 


Being a Muslim in a post 9-11 world, 

how has this shaped the way you 

lead diversity efforts and the way 

you approach diversity personally 

and at IUPUC?

I remember when the planes went down, 

talking to my wife and hoping that the men 

were not Muslim. It was a sad time. I was 

more critical of people who criticize 

religions, I felt as if the extremists were 

destroying my faith. I thought, “What would 

my neighbors think of me?” My neighbors 

had compassion for me, because they 

knew better; unlike other people, they 

would volunteer to go out with us in public, 

or go with my wife to the grocery store. 

A message of hate is not a message of 

God. We need education to help learn and 

teach others. We need respect to help 

understand others. We shouldn’t demean 

or belittle or look down upon others. Often 

this can strengthen us in our own faith 

while eradicating and removing fears about 

other religions and building confidence in 

our own beliefs

In your strategic priorities 

for IUPUC, you mention a 

regional and global impact. 

Why is it so important for 

IUPUC to have a global 

impact in a community like 

Columbus? How does this 

global impact make a 

difference in the region?

We live in a small world – local 

students who become a part of 

the world. Fortunately, we have 

companies such as Cummins 

and other international 

companies who do business 

globally. It’s important for the 

community and for our students 

to be able to go into the global 

world.  It hurts our students if 

they are not aware of about other 

countries. One example of things 

that were considering, is there 

anything that needs to be a part 

of our MBA program, that 

involves learning about other 

people’s cultures? I think this is 

an important question to ask.  It’s 

a way to help local people who 

are not well traveled.  Developing 

sensitivity is critical in this global 

economy and you must be 

culturally aware to develop that sensitivity.

A Thought for Columbus

By: Frances Leigh Jordan

And the story goes…..

On a British Airways flight from Johannesburg, a middle-aged, well-off white South African Lady has found 

herself sitting next to a black man.  She calls the cabin crew attendant over to about her seating.

"What seems to be the problem Madam?" asks the attendant. 

"Can’t you see?" she says. "You’ve sat me next to a kaffir. I can’t possibly sit next to this disgusting human. 

Find me another seat!”

"Please calm down Madam", the stewardess replies. "The flight is very full today, but I’ll tell you what I’ll do. 

I’ll go and check to see if we have any seats available in club or first class.”

The woman cocks a snooty look at the outraged black man beside her (not to mention many of the 

surrounding passengers). A few minutes later the stewardess returns with the good news, which she 

delivers to the lady, who cannot help but look at the people around her with a smug and self-satisfied grin.

"Madam, unfortunately, as I suspected, economy is full.  I’ve spoken to the cabin services director, and club 

is also full.  However, we do have one seat in first class.”

Before the lady has a chance to answer, the stewardess continues………

"It is most extraordinary to make this kind of upgrade, however, and I have had to get special permission 

from the captain. But, given the circumstances, the captain felt that it is outrageous that someone be forced 

to sit next to such an obnoxious person.”

With that, she turns to the black man sitting next to the woman, and says…

"So if you’d like to get your things, Sir, I have your seat ready for you."

At which point, apparently the surrounding passengers stood and gave a standing ovation while the black 

guy walked up to the front of the plane.

"People will forget what you said,

People will forget what you did,

But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In today’s society, the words diversity and inclusion are commonplace in 

our workplace and our schools, but how do you act when you go out in public, 

and with your children? Ask yourself, how do you make people feel? Outward 

examples of racism rarely happen in today’s society in such a public forum, 

although they still happen. What I find is that we have switched from blatant to 

subtle expressions of racism and discrimination. We need to be aware and see 

the effect of even subtle expressions can have on the people surrounding you. 

Do your biases show through your eyes, facial expressions, or a quick 

walk to the other side of the sidewalk depending on who’s on the same side of 

the street? When you see a young woman wearing a traditional hijab, or person 

in a wheelchair, or a gay couple holding hands, what is your natural reaction? Do 

you stare, make a face, or even crack a joke to the people you are with? It is 

wonderful the more we include others, but we also have to be mindful of how we 

make other people feel, even though subtle reactions can still sting, when we are 

around them.

The world is made up of different people, and you don’t have to agree 

with a person’s beliefs or value system, but diversity teaches us how to respect 

people’s differencesto  throw out our biases and stereotypes, and just allow 

people to be who they are without a judging eye. Give it a Try

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