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THE FUTURE OF WHITE MEN AND OTHER DIVERSITY DILEMMAS

This refreshing handbook--equally useful in the boardroom, the classroom and the living room--captures insightful lessons from personal encounters with diversity.

"In one concise and enjoyable volume," writes author HELEN ZIA, contributing editor to MS., "Joan Lester has given women what we always thought the 'old boys network' gave to men: She offers women of all backgrounds personalized feminist strategies for clearing away internalized baggage and finding the power within. Her book not only provides many examples of how the personal is political, it is a step-by-step guide to making the personal powerful."

SUE PATTON THOELE, author of THE WOMAN'S BOOK OF COURAGE and THE COURAGE TO BE YOURSELF, wrote on the book jacket, "Through warm and insightful examples from her own and other women's lives, Dr. Lester deftly teaches women how to own their own excellence, move past the shackles of 'over-nice' imposed by our society, and create the vision of a better future for all humanity."

In a time when we need to move beyond the rhetoric of diversity issues, this book should be a required text for everyone. Visible examples and practical strategies address the diversity dilemmas of the twenty-first century.

The book opens:
"Everybody seems to be getting a seat at the table these days. People who once carried the trays are sitting down, people who sat at the foot of the table are now honored guests, and people who took notes at the meetings are now running those meetings. Women, employees in wheelchairs, same-sex partners, men of color, old people, large people. The legal barriers are coming down--and now we all have to get along.

It isn't easy.

Most of us are well intentioned. We're doing our best, trying to do the right thing. Yet when it comes to interacting with people different from ourselves, much of the time we aren't very successful.

This is not the world in which we grew up. Yet here we are, expected to function today--with yesterday's mindset.

So we try to make friends; we try to create equitable environments at work or at school. And we often get blown out of the water. Eventually, we just want to stay in our neighborhoods with everyone else who is pretty much like ourselves.

Somehow though, we can't get away. The cousin named Gonzales (when our last name is Glenn), the aunt named Weinstein (ours is Wayne)--they keep popping up. Along with our son and his long-time "friend," the daughter who marries "outside the race," or the sister who can't get to a job because the bus in her town still isn't wheelchair accessible. The conflict between groups keeps occurring, right under our noses.

In the past we knew what to expect. White men ran not only the meetings but the country, women raised children (their own and others'), people of color served. Gay men, lesbians and people with disabilities didn't exist--not in polite company, anyway. Women who married were fired from their jobs. Jews were in separate clubs. Young people were to be seen and not heard. Old people faded away.

And now the rules are changing, right in the middle of our lives. We are all learning--those of us newly seated at the table and those who are having to move over to make a little more room.

This book looks at the diversity dilemmas we all confront in daily life, hopefully providing some new folkore to fall back on for those moments when you wonder: Now what do I say? What do I do?

"This refreshing book captures what most miss--insightful lessons from personal encounters with diversity. Lester is a talented storyteller who shares her learning in an unpretentious way." Ann M. Morrison, author of The New Leaders.

Dr. Joan Steinau Lester is a well-known spokesperson on diversity. She won the Siegenthaler award for an NPR "All Things Considered" commentatry entitled,
"What to Call My Sweetie?" Her articles appear in USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.