MIIS Speaks

Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in our survey “Naming the Diversity Newsletter at MIIS.” As you probably have noted, I decided to go with the title: “The Black Mirror: Reflecting on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” 

To learn more about the meaning of “The Black Mirror,” see this page.

Fifty-nine students, faculty, staff, and alumni responded to the survey. I am very encouraged by the level of community engagement, shown both through the survey and through personal comments delivered to me.

In analyzing the survey, I noted that a majority of the respondents either loved or liked the title, about 60% of respondents. A quarter of the respondents were neutral, and a small percentage hated the title.

I took serious note of the comments made by those who objected to the title of the newsletter. I understand the discomfort arising from the possible association to the Netflix series and the color black – dark, foreboding, scary. I hope we can appreciate the fact that often, associations to a color, word, or concept can translate into implicit biases we carry in our everyday life. Avoiding implicit biases is crucial to any work we do on race. I respect the sensitivity to what the word “black” in the title might mean to the black community as well as other minority communities. I, therefore, consulted a few anti-racism activists and sought their opinion on the title. All of them approved of the title, and many of them were appreciative of the courage shown in selecting a title that might generate discomfort; as we all know, we need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable to grow. Let this newsletter, especially its title, be a reminder that discomfort is okay, and the goal is to challenge our preconceptions and biases.

As for the association to the Netflix series, let’s take back ownership of the history of black mirrors. If you look carefully at the various episodes of these series, the point they make is that the future can be pretty scary if we continue acting the way we do; which is exactly the very purpose of black mirrors in history.

There was another concern that some of you raised, “Should we have a title that requires explaining?” I think the answer to that is, “Yes”! As a learning community, we should be continually exploring where cultural references come from, and the history of the black mirror seemed to be unknown to most of our survey respondents.

I visualize this newsletter to be a mix of MIIS community and other higher education campus news. You will see many of your suggestions reflected in the content of the newsletter. If you have any further ideas and recommendation after reviewing this first issue, please do not hesitate to email me.