Jackie Ferguson (PODCAST INTRO): You're listening to the “Diversity Beyond the Checkbox” podcast. I'm your host Jackie Ferguson, certified diversity executive, writer, human rights advocate, and co-founder of the diversity movement. On this podcast, I'm talking to trailblazers, game changers and glass ceiling breakers, who share their inspiring stories, lessons learned and insights on business inclusion, and personal development.
Jackie Ferguson: Thanks for listening, everyone. Today we're fortunate to have two esteemed and award winning guests on the show, Jackie Font Guzman and Bernie Mayer. Jackie and Bernie, thank you for being here. Would you each take just a moment and tell us about yourself whatever you'd like to share about your family, your background, your identity and your early career?
Jackie Font Guzman: I'll go ahead and start. I am Jackie Font Guzman. And first of all, thank you so much for the invitation. And I’m looking forward to our conversation today. And I am originally from Puerto Rico, really, truly passionate about the beach and the mountains and just really enjoying and going out for walks. I think people that have been highly influential in my life have been my, my mother and my grandmother come from a family of strong woman who have always really advanced and want to activate change in some way, shape or form. I come from a family who overall they have been activists and really wanting to affect change. And that has led me I guess, in my journey to be here today and working as the Inaugural Executive Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Eastern Mennonite University.
Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. Thank you, Jackie. Bernie?
Bernie Mayer: Well, thank you again for inviting us beyond this. I'm looking forward to the discussion today. But let me just say this, that my back now that, I am a retired professor of Conflict Studies at Creighton University where Jackie and I work together. And before that I was for many years a partner at CDR Associates which is a conflict intervention firm located in Boulder, Colorado, but it's all over the place. My maybe deeper background was I'm the son of Holocaust survivors and son of Holocaust victims. And that was a very important part of how I grew up with a commitment to social activism and social change. Also kind of as a child of the 60s where I was very involved in all sorts of stuff that went on then. I now live in Canada, on the north shore of Lake Erie with my wife, Julian McFarland. And I have a bunch of kids all over the world and the only one accompanying here, here today will likely be my dog, Teddy.
Jackie Ferguson: Bernie, thank you so much. I appreciate you both for sharing. And Bernie, you alluded to the fact that you met Jackie at Creighton University. Can you tell us more about that experience working together?
Bernie Mayer: Well, we were actually hired at the same time, it started within a day or two of each other. I think it was in 2006. Is that right?
Jackie Font Guzman: That sounds about right.
Bernie Mayer: And we worked together for 14 years in a program. It was a negotiation and conflict resolution, a master's degree program for while Jackie was a director of the program, actually, for a while I was the acting director while Jackie was off on a Fulbright. But otherwise, she was the leader and a very effective one. And we found ourselves allies in many different ways, taught some together, we presented together, we consulted with each other on writing and related activities. And we will also find ourselves analyzing the inevitable academic issues that came up some of which were just every day and some of which were actually pretty difficult. I think it's fair to say we had each other's back. So then when it came time to think about who might be there, how we might work together on this new project, it seemed like we had a lot in our background that allowed us to do that.
Jackie Ferguson: Jackie, anything to add about how you met and that early relationship?
Jackie Font Guzman: Yeah, I mean, I think I would echo that. I think I was when I started working at Creighton actually, I was moving from Puerto Rico, though I had been my husband and I had been there before. And so I was new to the town. I was new to the job. I was in the field of conflict already. But in Puerto Rico, which you know, different crowds don't always connect with the United States just because it's an island and it's harder to do those sorts of things. So Bernie was we did had our back, always each other's back. But also Bernie was like, very supportive and introducing me to this new world of people that were in the field as well that I had known or I had been reading their work. But you know, islands can be a little bit insular when you're living in them. And so we also connected through a lot of that. And we started then having like, even like friends in common. And so out of all of that, I really, we got to get each other to get to know each other's family. And it's just a really good, collegial and friendship started to develop to this day.
Jackie Ferguson: You know, sponsorship within an organization and just having that person that can help you navigate a new role, or a new company is so important. Jackie, tell us, Bernie mentioned Fulbright award. So can you tell us what that is and what you did with that?
Jackie Font Guzman: Sure. So Fulbright Scholarship is a pretty prestigious academic program where the origins come from Fulbright, who wanted to he was, I think, was the senator, the US Congress. And he wanted to create a world people to connect with each other. So a bigger not seen the US as you know, we at the center of the world, but actually connect with other countries. And so he has all he developed all sorts of Fulbright programs. This one in particular is for faculty who want to go abroad to do some work, sometimes it's teaching sometimes is researching. And in my case, it was to teach in Madrid, Spain teaching courses that were actually about mediation, dialogue processes, and ways of advancing change through the processes that we use in conflict resolution to either solve problems or engage with them or stay with them or advance some sort of change. So we got to go there and live for like four months, my husband and I, and Bernie was kind enough to say, probably not too excited about it. But he said, I cover, I will do administration, so you can go out on your Fulbright.
Jackie Ferguson: That's awesome. Now, you both have extensive backgrounds in conflict resolution. And this is something that many of us struggle with in our personal lives and our professional lives. How do we go about approaching conflict with good results?
Bernie Mayer: Well, it's a very broad question, of course, because it depends on the person, the context, the conflict. I guess I'd say that a theme in a lot of the work we've done is teaching and as practitioners is that we don't think dealing with important conflict steep conflicts that we get, we make progress by trying to solve them too quickly. What we really both believe I think of, although Jackie will certainly correct me if I'm wrong, is that one of the biggest mistakes we make is rush towards superficial solutions that often do not attack the problem at the roots. And as a result can actually end up being more about how you maintain a system status quo rather than change it. And so that one of the things that we believe is that we have to be willing to live with conflict, often for a while, even sometimes escalated, as we also work to see what agreements are possible. We're not certainly not against the green, where there really are agreements possible. But we believe these need to be seen in the context as a context of a longer process. And this is particularly true if you're dealing with issues such as massage, racism, homophobia, things on that nature, because there are a lot of agreements that could simply be made of a superficial manifestation that don't get out what's really going on.
Jackie Font Guzman: Yeah, I would actually add, if I can, the building on what Bernie just said, our obsession with neutrality and trying to stay a little bit detach and be objective prevents us from racing and engaging with conflict in ways that are actually constructive and conducive to make really institutional change. I think there tends to be a focus on things like communicating effectively, or drawing on people through communication. And I think communication is not the same as connection, I think communication is far more important and far more long lasting. And because we are trying to focus on being neutral, we hold ourselves back from really connecting with the person on the other end of our point of view, or perspective, or versal, we're in conflict with, and we named our wood, bandaid solutions or things that are, don't really address systemic change that maybe potentially can address the problem for this one person because we are finding a loophole or wanting around and making some sort of adaptations so that we make it work for that person, but the root of the conflict continues to be there. And I think in many ways that we need to start valuing more connection and seeing communication as a way of connecting unnecessarily as a way of trying to understand each other, because I've also found that that prevents us or holds us back from caring and I think caring is more important than understanding and when We focus on ground ourselves in communication, we're trying to understand we're trying to be objective, we're trying to be neutral and that leads us to disconnection. And that takes us away from actually true meaningful connections with each other.
Jackie Ferguson: You know, that's so interesting. Many of us like to hover over neutrality thinking that's the best approach. But you know, how does neutrality negatively affect a situation, if we could dig a little more into that with the two of you, I'd love to understand because again, that's what well, you know, I'm neutral, you know, and they love to people love, because it's comfortable. You don't have to pick aside, you don't have to you know necessarily take a stand or, you know, you can just hover and you know, I'm not picking the side and not picking that side. Tell us why that's not always the best.
Bernie Mayer: I love your connection of the word neutrality was hovering, because I think for a lot of it, and in Latin languages, neutrality comes very close to meaning doing nothing, it's sort of like a car is a neutral, you know, it's idling, it doesn't go forward or backwards. In a way, that's exactly the issue. First of all, nobody knows exactly what they mean by neutrality. It has lots of different meanings. And most of it is unattainable. If I'm a mediator, and I'm told that I need to be neutral, which means I'm going to have no biases, or I'm going to have no sense of maybe agreeing with one person more than another, or even caring more about one person than another. That's not me. That's just asking you more than humanly possible sometimes. And also, if it says, “Well, you're right, but it just simply means that you don't have any stake in the outcome, probably most of us have some kind of structural connection”. So for example, if I'm going to mediate between a husband and a wife, chances are there's going to be two men in the room and one woman, and that there's a structural lack of neutrality. So it's a very misleading and I think, not useful concept is closely related connected to the concept of objectivity, which also isn't something we can truly offer. Because our values and concerns and life experiences, what we can offer is a commitment to try to help people have the conversation they need to have, or the interaction that's productive to have. And we can offer authenticity and transparency and honesty about our own values there. So the neutrality trap is specifically in my mind refers to if you take the neutral stance, so hovering stamps, and now we're going to start using that word to conflicts where there is a power differential, inevitably you said, you're going to end up setting on the side of the more powerful. If you don't do something structure, a process that counteracts the structural sources of, of inequality, so that all people can be have a powerful voice, then what you're doing is providing a playing field where the more powerful person gets to predominate.
Jackie Ferguson: Wow.
Jackie Font Guzman: I actually would also add that neutrality stems from a position of privilege, the times when I have stepped up. And when it's something where I am the one that I feel I'm being marginalized or somehow excluded comes actually from a position that neutrality is supporting a status quo that is not working for me. And my instinct or my need to react to it really comes out many times out of desperation, right? Like, this is like my only I need to do it for my own survival for my own safety for whatever the circumstances. And so if you think about that, I think that's why I say, I am okay with being neutral. If I'm in the position that is status quo uncomfortable, because I am fine. And so neutrality can be very dangerous when we're talking about effecting change, and advancing equity and social justice for everyone.
Jackie Ferguson: Well, I knew this hour is going to be amazing. I'm already learning so much. I've chills because I never thought about it that way. And so I'm so excited. All right, let's talk about your book, “The neutrality trap disrupting and connecting for social change”. What inspired you both to write this book together? And what can readers learn from it?
Jackie Font Guzman: I still remember when Bernie called me on the phone and said, Hey, I have an idea. I want to write a book, would you want to be a co-authored of the book with me. And at the time, I was still out in Omaha working at Creighton University and I was working on a draft of a book proposal for “How do the arts and humanities advanced social change and disrupt can be used as agents of disruption”, but really focus on Puerto Rico and the experience of Puerto Rico. We had gone and I had participated in bringing down the, at the time in 2019, in the summer of 2019, then governor of Puerto Rico, for some misogynist comments and racist comments he had made. And so I said, Wow, the arts and the humanities had such an impact on this, I want to write about this. And so that's kind of where I was. And Bernie, as always, we read each other's stuff all the time, he had been giving me some really constructive feedback on that. And that's kind of the place where I was when he called me and talked about this. And I said, “Wow, this would be not only an honor to be able to work with him”, but also it would allow me to transmit a message to a wider audience, that it wouldn't be just grounded in the colonial experience of Puerto Rico. My experience there were that I could bring some of those stories into a larger framework. And then Floyd had been murdered. And that kind of had gotten me thinking about other things that I hadn't been thinking when I was focusing on my original project, because that had not happened yet. And then COVID happened and the exacerbation of inequalities worldwide sort of was a call for me to say, well, we can do something better and bigger together than what I could do on my own writing this book. And I just love working with Bernie. So it was kind of a no brainer for me.
Bernie Mayer: Well, let me let me add, that I've been thinking about a problem, that field of people who work on conflict and peacemaking has, I think has to confront. But not just among social activists, more gentlemen, there is almost a Pavlovian response to major conflict meant that when conflict professionals like mediators or facilitators, or people who see their lives as peace builders, is that we need to bring people together to talk and to better understand. So that's what some was said after Trump was first elected, you know, that we just need to try to understand each other better. And it's a lot of what happened after George Floyd was murdered, where people were saying, we just need to bring the community and police together to talk and understand each other better. It reminded me of when I was activist during the Vietnam era, have everybody, myself included? Seeing all we are saying is good. But I remember thinking “No, that's not all”. I'm saying more than that. Although giving peace, a chance is a good thing. Bringing police and community together is a good thing, trying to understand across our political differences are a good thing. It's just not enough. All you say, then I think you're saying we don't really want we want to calm things down, we don't want real change. Instead, there has to be another side of the message, which is why the subtitle of the book is disrupting and connect, change. And that is that we have to understand the systems that are perpetuating these problems, whether it's, you know, racism, or environmental degradation or inequality of incomes, we have to look at the systems that are doing it and figure out what we can do to disrupt those systems so that they have to reorganize in a better way. Which is, by the way, exactly what I think people who work in the area of diversity, equity inclusion are trying to do in organizational settings, which is if they just look at all the individual examples, people conflicting a feeling done to buy something and try to settle those are not looking at the overall system that is perpetuating the problem. So that's what we wanted to write about. And being as we both had a background in intervening in some very difficult, sometimes awful conflicts. And as social activist, I think we both had a feeling for both sides of that equation. And we wanted to explore the connection, tell some stories about it, try to conceptualize the relationship between the two and put it in practical terms and understand when does a major focus on connecting and dialogue really make a difference? And how when is not such a good idea? And what do we mean by disruption? And how can we understand the nature of systems disruption better? So that's what we address in this book. Hopefully, in a very practical way, I think in a very practical.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. I think one of the things that I love, especially about the title is your calling out the two things that are necessary for real change to enact real change. And that's the disruption and the connection. Because a lot of times people want to start with you know, Bernie, as you said, give peace a chance and just starting with that connection, but you've really got to disrupt the system, so that you can create a level of or an opportunity for equity to then okay, now how do we come back together and connect here so I think that's so important. And you I mean, just really nailed it right in the title as to you know, these two pieces that create social change. So let's dig into that a little bit. What are your thoughts on, you know, when we think about enacting social change, right? That's, that's a big undertaking. And you know, it's intimidating. So if we're thinking about that, and doing this work, what are some of the initial things we need to start thinking about to disrupt, and then connect right and create the social change?
Jackie Font Guzman: One of things we do talk about in the book is the distinction between strategic disruption and chaotic disruption, which I think it's important to clarify here. I think disruption is absolutely necessary. And I think Bernie and I both agree on this. And there's the chaos that happens with the disruption initially, when people are just, you know, taking on the streets, or if you're an organization or an institution, you know, getting together students protesting and making a list of demands, and just the emotional and the anger, just being out there and calling out people on things that they should be doing or not doing. And I think that is important. It calls attention to conflict, it calls attention to the inequity. But if we just stay in that cycle, we're not going to affect real change. So we need to, at some point in time, start moving towards the strategic changes that we want to see and be more strategic about in the cases of an institutional where I am right now, what are the leverage points? And what is my strategy to really make systemic change, right to really be strategic about where do I want to go. And I think people in the audience who may be doing the AI work would probably resonate a lot with this, which is, you know, you have your funding, you have donors, you have money coming in to advance the AI. And I'm always holding the tension of I don't want to use the money to put a bandaid except when I absolutely have to, some there's some real needs. But how can we start using the funding and the money to really be strategic about the kind of chaos we want to raise about the need so that things become institutionalized, and now they're not? Now they're not being funded by soft money, but they have become someone's operational budget responsibility. So I think one of the things is and you can get there by being strategic about the disruption by not staying in the chaos constantly, which I think is necessary. But if we stay there, we don't advance change. So I think those are two things that I'm always looking at in terms of, and I think it works the same in social change in the larger society level, but also at institutions. One of the things which we worked on our book was to have people as part of that bridging of social activism with conflict was to say, the skill sets that are out there for social activism that have been successful can also be brought into our institutions and organizations that there is a relationship between social change and activism and institutional change, and that they don't live in separate worlds. And we can actually learn from each other. So for me, it's always about being strategic and looking at the system at the larger picture. And where are the leverage points? Where will I have the most impact?
Bernie Mayer: I would add to that or build on that. One is that, you know, we do need some of the chaos, adding disruption. I think a lot of times people are very upset when there's an initial craziness, like people take to the streets like they did after George Floyd was murdered, or after officers who beat Rodney King up, were acquitted, or Dr. King was assassinated, there was a lot of anger, and there was some violence around the edges. And yet, there was energy that that created and it made an issue be seen and become more to the forefront. But in order to carry it on in order to have a longer term process, you need leadership, you need organizational structures, you need to change strategy, as Jackie was talking about, I think there's a concept that is useful with that of nucleating change, which is a systems concept that, you know, you nucleate as a disrupter, put it into a system. And that disrupter causes a system to reorganize. It is a disrupter that creates positive feedback loops, which is systems top down, but it is important for what creates change. So we could translate that in a couple of ways. One is whatever issue that we each face in our day to day lives were the people who were concerned about face that they can focus on and do something about that represent much larger issues. You could call them transitional issues. For example, if you look at putting in a particular landfill, in a community that is going to lead to a toxic discharge into groundwater, that's a very specific local issue that people are concerned about and they can work about. But it connects to a much larger issue about how we create waste, how we create more than we need to create in terms of materials. And that's just one of many, many issues but it's a way in which you can have a strict you focus on something specific and it has a way of getting to work on larger issues. In other examples, something my wife, Julian Farlan, is working on now in an organization called “Camp by my Silence”, which is looking at issues of how we enable sexual harassment and put it in violence in the workplace by encouraging people to sign non-disclosure agreements, which allow the perpetrators of violence to go on to the next place, and are very damaging a lot of ways. So by there's no all sorts of legislative initiatives and legislation has been passed about it. It's a specific issue that creates a larger sense and translates to the larger context. So it's how you do that. And it's how you also work in the immediate present, begin to think about the long term. So those are some of the things that I think that we address, and we think are very important if we really want system change.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. Now, why do you think organizations try so hard to avoid the conflict of tough issues?
Bernie Mayer: I like put it a little differently. I think organizations avoid conflict that they don't want to have. So if they don't like what some people are doing, they're perfectly willing to go down and tell them you better stop that or else. But when people raise issues that threaten the power hierarchy, or the power structure, the privileged position, that's what organizations resisted, and systems resist it in many dramatic and sometimes incredibly hurtful, harmful and destructive ways. And why they do it is trying to maintain their privileged position for the organization I think.
Jackie Font Guzman: I wholeheartedly agree with that. I think that's why it's so important. And that's the other piece that we do, the disruption is important, but the relationship building is also important so that we can connect with those people across power differentials across differences to be able to start then making the disruption sustainable and strategic, because it is about sharing power. And it is about trying to build empathy. And I think stories there are really powerful and helpful to do that, it is a lot easier for me to deny something or to preserve a status quo on a process if I am completely in the dark as to what are the real impacts that that process is having in someone's life. And the way to get at that usually is by bringing it to life with the story of the people or the students or the employers or employees depending on where we're at to really bring that point across. And so that's where that disruption and connections sort of come together.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. So you are co-teaching a course this summer. Tell us all about that?
Bernie Mayer: Well, Jackie's University will be the first time I've taught a course in person in over two years, five day intensive based on our book to really try to take all of these issues we've talked about and will expand them into a much more people will it be given a chance to actually construct change campaigns and also to look at how dialogue can be part of a change campaign, oh, connecting and disrupting to come together in specific areas they're looking at and we'll look at stuff such as non-violence as an approach to social change. And intersectionality is a concept that has to be considered in work with, Jackie knows the system a lot more than me, I probably should.
Jackie Font Guzman: I can give some context. So as I shared before, I've been now here working at Eastern Mennonite University for a year and part of my portfolio also starting now in July 1st will be serve as a strategic visioning director for the Center for Justice and peace building, which is flagship center and program for EMU. And they have historically for since the beginnings have this program that is called the Summer Peace Institute, SPI. And they bring courses that are related to peace and social change and non-violence and just basically a bounce in peace building and all this type of work. And so Bernie, I will be teaching between June 6, and so they open it this it's a wonderful space more than more than a space for teaching. It's also created as being a space of community, and gathering and building and relationships. So it takes place around the Sun tars most of the summer and hours in particular is going to be from June 6th through June 10th. Historically, there's been a lot of international students also that come in to take the different courses that they want to take. So it's a really great sense of community. We bring in scholars from pretty much literally all over the world sometimes to teach these courses. So if anyone is interested, they can actually go into the Eastern Mennonite University website Center for Justice and peace building and look at our course and what we want to do is it will be the first time for me teaching face to face also in a long time and actually co teaching with Bernie in a while since it's been three years or more. We haven't really done anything face to face together. And the idea is to give people the tools to be able to go into their institutions or their communities and put into an apply some of the tips and the tools and the skills were provided in the book to actually impact social change within their sphere of influence, whatever that may be.
Jackie Ferguson: So exciting. Now you've both mentioned the term peace building. And I want to dig into that just a little bit. What is that? How do we contribute to that? It sounds great. How do we contribute to that as individuals?
Bernie Mayer: Well, it seems to me there in our lives, multiple opportunities. Let's maybe talk about peace, building a broader sense. And then we can talk about how do we do it, you know, we often talk about negative and positive. And negative piece of stopping the war, stopping fighting negative pieces, what we better get in Ukraine pretty good very quickly, in Ukraine, we're getting killed and awful things are happening. Positive pieces, that contending with a problems that lead to conflict, you know, building the security network structures that help all people feel safe dealing, building in more civil society into the communities. And so I think one thing that we can think about is what are the actions that lead not only to the end of violence, but to the, to the more constructive communal basis for ongoing relationships and coming together? And I think we all can ask ourselves, what are our opportunity to work towards dealing with the sources that create stress and, and create the conditions that need people to be polarized and to go after each other in our own families, neighborhoods, organizations and our world. And I think they're all around ways in which we could do things. And one of the things that I let me talk about connecting for a moment, one of the things I think we can do is seek to try to have conversations with people we really disagree with a place where a lot of those conversations started by being good listeners. But that in some ways is the easiest part. Not easy, but easiest, the harder part, the simplest part is to how we go from there, to saying what we have to say so that we are true to our beliefs and our views in a way that invites conversation rather than shuts it down.
Jackie Font Guzman: In many ways, peace building. What it adds to the more traditional mediation and negotiation on the more individual process is it's really looking at structures as well. So what does it need? What are the structures and what needs to change, whether it's policies or the way we relate to each other in our community that really needs to change for that piece to be sustainable, and everlasting. And I think that's the other piece that peace building brings that the other conflict resolution programs, they are not that they don't aspire towards that but peace building really mentions that and aims for that. And as part of the goals that they want to do when we're engaging in peace building.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely, that's such good information. So you wrote a book together, you're teaching a course together, what's next for you two?
Jackie Font Guzman: Vacation maybe. What's next for me is really working on bringing and operationalizing a lot of what we wrote together in that book and my role here as in diversity, equity, and inclusion at AMU, on our community at large, in the Center for Justice and peace building to be able to equip our students, in my case, in some in an academic institution to really be able to learn how to organize for change and movement. I think our new generation is primed and ready for that what John Lewis used to say, get into good trouble to really support them, and being agents of social change in ways that are productive, nonviolent, constructive, and make things happen. So it's a goal and aspiration. And I think that's what's next for me right now.
Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. Bernie?
Bernie Mayer: That's often an existential question for me. I retired and then almost two years ago, and started working on this project and a number of other projects related. For example, I started working on a project that looks at implicit bias and white racism and the conflict. Jackie, and I both did some work on what is it that people in our field might have to say, or ought not to say about Ukraine, which is something else we could talk about? I too, want to focus on how I can work very locally at putting some of these ideas into practice considering a number of different ways of doing it. And your point was something Jackie said earlier that it's time to write stories about experiences that we've had that we've learned about. There's a lot of stories in this book, but it just strikes me that in a way maybe That's something not necessarily in a book form, I'm not sure what form but to tell the story is where I've really had to bring together the worlds of conflict, intervention and social activism, which it turns out, we're always there, there are always two strains that all of us face, even if we don't consciously identify ourselves in that kind of work. And then the immediate next thing is I'm next week, I started on a series of trips to see my kids who are located really all over the place.
Jackie Ferguson: Awesome. Well, I have enjoyed this time with you both. I want to end with one last question. And I'd love for each of you to take a moment to answer but what is the message that you want to leave our listeners with today?
Bernie Mayer: Well, I think maybe one is a lot of messages. But one important message is despair is our enemy. It sometimes feels overwhelming, when we face crises like climate, for example, or endemic oppression, or I don't think sometimes seem to be going backwards, like with voting rights, for example. But you know, the artist Dr. King said, the, the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice, I do believe in. And I believe that we can make a difference. And what we do individually and collectively can make a difference, but that optimism means it doesn't work. If we're naive, we have to be realistically optimistic. And that means that we need to really face the challenge is more complicated than simply being peacemakers, for example of all simply being hovering above the fray, that it was really engaging with some messy things and dealing with uncertainties and doing the best we can when we're not sure what to do. But if we do that, with the intention of really contributing to the world we live in a constructive way we can and we suggest we have throughout.
Jackie Font Guzman: I would add from my perspective, I would you know, we can make this happen. I think we're at a crossroads, not only in the US, but in the world. My mother used to say always to me since I was when I was growing up, she said, whatever your religious beliefs or non-beliefs are, but she said, well, at the end of the day, if you're a religious person, it will be you know, when you face your Creator, if not, towards the end of your life that you either have to answer to your Creator or to yourself just one question. And that question was, what have you done with the gifts that you were given? And your talent? How have you used that for action to change the world and make the world better for others? So I would encourage people to just think about, you know, one thing, one area, something under your sphere of influence, whether it's their work their community, and think about and reflect about, what is the gift that they have, that they want to use to be able to answer that question and go out and make change happen. I think it's a pendulum, it goes back and forth. But I think we're at a crossroads where we can actually together make change in ways that advances a more equitable and just world.
Jackie Ferguson: Wow, amazing. What an amazing way to end our season. So thank you both so much for your work and your thought leadership and for taking some time with me today to have this discussion. How can people get in touch with you?
Bernie Mayer: Probably Google either of us don't get it right away. But I'd be happy to hear from people at Bernie S Mayer. The s between Bernie and Mayer they're firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jackie Font Guzman: And my institutional email can be found emu.edu Eastern Mennonite university so if you Google there and Google my name, you will see my email and my contact information, some more information about me.
Bernie Mayer: Jackie Ferguson, thank you for the work you're doing to this is really example of how arena in which for social change.
Jackie Ferguson: Thanks.
Jackie Font Guzman: Thanks for creating the spaces there.
Jackie Ferguson: Absolutely. Thank you for being here. I've enjoyed it.
Jackie Ferguson (PODCAST OUTRO): Thanks for joining me for this episode. Please take a moment to subscribe and review this podcast and share this episode with a friend. Become a part of our community on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. This show was edited and produced by Ear Fluence. I'm Jackie Ferguson Join us for our next episode of “Diversity Beyond the Checkbox”. Take care of yourself and each other.
Sometimes it’s not OK to just be neutral. In fact, it can be very dangerous when talking about effecting change and working towards social justice for all people. In this episode, hear why the problem of neutrality led Eastern Mennonite University professors Jackie Font-Guzmán and Bernie Mayer to co-author The Neutrality Trap: Disrupting and Connecting for Social Change.
Listen to this episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.