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Diversity doesn’t always mean inclusion: Continued actions will spur change after Black History Month

March 3, 2022   ·   0 Comments

March is here and Black History Month is over, but the work towards inclusion is far from over.

This is the message of Simcoe County’s Making Change, which will spark a community conversation this Thursday, March 3, with a virtual talk hosted by the Aurora Public Library.

Facilitated by psychologist, speaker and mental health advocate Debbie Opoku-Mulder, “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes” will look at diversity and inclusion from the lived experiences of Black women who share perspectives on becoming an ally and doing self-work around anti-Black racism.

Making Change was founded in Simcoe County in 2019 with the stated purpose of starting much-needed conversations around inclusion and diversity. Its founders saw that few things were happening in area schools, or within their communities, to mark Black History Month.

They didn’t want to just “sit back and wait” for change, says Michele Newton, Co-Founder and Acting Chair of Making Change Simcoe County. They had to be the change.

“We want to change people’s awareness of – and interactions with – Black individuals, Black communities, Black cultures, and also get people to continue on or start a journey to eradicate anti-Black racism where they find it – within themselves, their organization, their communities, their homes – and those are the pieces we see people starting on this journey.”

It’s also aimed at fostering conversations around inclusion and diversity, stressing that diversity does not necessarily lead to inclusion.

They drive this home through activities, such as the event on March 3, fostering allyship, and encouraging participation and discussion throughout the year – not just Black History Month. At its core, “it’s really about community togetherness.”

“It’s not top of mind to think about inclusion being an action where you participate as an ally or you look to these different people in the Black community who are in your communities,” says Newton. “Anywhere outside any major urban centre, this is a topic of conversation – and even in urban centres. You have diversity and not inclusion. It’s the kind of thing where you look at Black History Month as a Black parent, as a Black individual, and don’t really see anybody other than yourself looking at it or being interested in learning, or being aware that Anti-Black racism exists and we need to change. 

“The conversation is how can we do better when it comes to inclusion of Black culture, Blackness and Black people? How can we do better when it comes to understanding there is anti-Black racism and we each individually have a role to play in dismantling that going forward. That is really the change we are seeing. Is it grand, sweeping change? Not yet. It is a change and a hope for change we are seeing and inspiring people to take through the activities that we do.”

Sharing personal stories of racial injustice, she says “is, to some extent, a little bit like ambulance chasing” in that “people love hearing about them but it doesn’t necessarily inspire action.”

“It is part of awareness-building,” she says. “Our presentations really walk through a conversation about where are those gaps? You can start the journey by learning about Black cultures, so we can share some of the ideas. Black culture is not monolithic. You can have Caribbean culture, you can have African culture, one Black person doesn’t reflect the same cultures that the next one does and we share that in the conversation.

“We talk about the prevalence of Black representation, of people in positions of making powerful decisions in government, in organizations, on boards, and in teachings. We take a little look at these Black Lives Matter rallies… [and] one of the observations around the movement from 2020 is there has been a steep drop off in people who are White racialized or otherwise not Black racialized in the energy they put towards the Black Lives Matter (movement) or fighting anti-Black racism. Their own motivation needs to remain because the problems aren’t solved.”

Being an ally and allyship takes work, says Newton, and the “work isn’t easy.”

“I feel like that is a place that is awkward for people and one of the things we often talk about in our presentations, and as individuals, is you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being an ally is not coasting through the journey and all things are fantastic and great. If you’re disrupting anti-Black racism, it could be uncomfortable.”

For more about the March 3 “Making Change” event, including how to register, visit For more about the Making Change organization, visit

By Brock Weir

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