"A welcome addition to discussions about multiculturalism. Lester's stories are poignant in their simplicity. Whether you are an African-Caribbean lesbian living in Kansas city or a white heterosexual man living on Long Island, you can learn from this book."
Ms. Magazine

"Terrific writer."
Governor Ann Richards

Orange County Register

"Questions and concerns are all raised--and dealt with beautifully--in a new, insightful and witty book by Joan Steinau Lester. Should be required reading for every worker in the country."
Milwaukee Journal

"A provacative book that handles sensitive subjects intelligently. Above all, it makes you think."
The Cape Codder

"...deceptively simple, brightly colored little book...certainly not a textbook...definitely a clearly written, unpretentious format for examining diversity...it is an accessible, timely entrance to the twenty-first century."
The Washington Blade



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.

Selected Works

"A powerful story brilliantly capturing the complications of the mother-daughter relationship from both sides." --Marissa Moss, author of the bestselling Amelia's Notebook series
Selected as Teen Read of the Year by "Coming Together in Skokie," 2015. ***************************************** "In a fast-paced novel-within-a-novel, Nina's great-great-grandmother runs from slavery to freedom, her courage an inspiration to Nina. This multi-layered novel--part contemporary, part historical--is impossible to put down." --Elizabeth Partridge, award winning author of Dogtag Summer
Showcases the many facets of a woman--Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton--who remains an iconic torch-bearer for the Civil Rights and Women's Movements.
Diversity Classic Reissued, July, 2016 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "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. ******************************************* "Lester's generous voice sheds keen insight, humor and practical advice on the polarizing dilemmas of living with diversity." Urvashi Vaid
Offers proven, effective strategies for every woman, whether secretary or CEO. Provides encouragement and goal-setting guidelines. "Lucid...poignant."-- MS.