Growing up Black in the Jim Crow South of the 1940s and 1950s, Friendship Village of Tempe resident Rosemary James is very familiar with the effects of prejudice in American society. Today, she’s using her personal and professional experiences to teach others how to become allies for marginalized communities.
“I’m an educator who wrote content, developed and conducted workshops for much of my career,” James said. “So I put all of those skills to work again, but in the area of racism, racial justice and equality.”
At her church, James shared her diversity, inclusion and equity presentations to great success. Afterward, she decided she wanted to test it out somewhere closer to home.
“Through my church, I wrote content and designed workshops dedicated to diversity and inclusion,” James said. “It began to change the culture of our congregation, so I thought I would bring that to Friendship Village of Tempe.” The Arizona continuing care retirement community is managed by Life Care Services.
The church presentation quickly turned into a two-day resident workshop on DEI at Friendship Village. The event was so successful that James was invited to share the same training with 50 employees at LCS’ corporate headquarters in Des Moines, IA, during the company’s August leadership conference.
James has completed two resident workshops for the community, has a waiting list for a third workshop and is working with the community’s leadership team to adapt the training for employees. By sharing those presentations, she hopes to encourage more people to become allies in the fight against prejudice.
“People here have been willing to put themselves in an uncomfortable position, and to experience and learn how they can be more proactive at interrupting racism when they experience it in their lives,” James said. “It takes an extra special effort to say something in these difficult situations, so whatever you say needs to come from you even if it’s as simple as stating ‘what you just said made me feel uncomfortable.’”
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