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Good morning, everyone.

Now, with a fresh coat of snow, a good night’s rest, some provocative and productive discussions in the dorm with your peers and adults last night, and a good breakfast this morning, it’s officially time to start Diversity Day.

It’s one of those days that very intentionally and explicitly offers the NMH community the opportunity to engage in conference-style discussions about different aspects of our identities. If you don’t find yourself represented in today’s workshops or conversations, it is not because you didn’t have the opportunity to do so. Start thinking of ways to get more intentionally involved next year. We want you. It’s never too early to start planning for a day like this. I would know, because I forget that small detail each year.

There’s so much that we cannot anticipate, including the energy during last night’s film Q & A. I’ve been stuck on that one part of the I’m Not Racist...Am I? documentary where, after Terence explains that “a certain person upset him 90% of the time” a few people in the room said, “It just got real.”

Real. It just got real, AKA It’s real now, but wasn’t before. AKA I’m kind of uncomfortable and don’t know what else to say but have a strong reaction. AKA A truth is now in the air that wasn’t before. I liked Liza’s response: “What was it before?” And I wonder, as I stand here, “What was this kind of conversation at NMH before?” “What was NMH before? Was it not “real”? If so, why not?” 

That thought led me to Dick Peller’s Founder’s Day speech wherein he mentioned that for many of us, NMH is real. NMH is our truth. This Diversity Day, I find myself wanting to know more about NMH’s truths. What voices feel silenced? Who gets to tell their truth? What systems and structures make that possible? What opportunities do we have for “real talk” or truth-spilling? Are we intentional in our truth-telling as a community? Or do we mostly tell our truths by accident?

As we move through today, I charge our community to fully engage. Bring your whole self. Bring your best self. Bring your truth. And also remember that your truth is one of many truths. See how yours matches up with the person next to you, the person across from you, and, maybe especially with the truths of the person you always find yourself disagreeing with. Rise to the challenge, and engage each other in challenging discourse.

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