Campaign For Inclusion January 14th Event Recap

This recap is from the January 14th Panel surrounding barrier to inclusion and the impact on mental health.

On behalf of both MAC and MAF, we want to say thank you to all who joined us as we continue our Campaign for Inclusion series.  Your support allows us to bring more of these important conversations to our community and beyond, and we are so grateful to have this platform to do so. 

As promised, here is some follow up information on our latest conversation around barriers to inclusion and the impact on mental health.

Firstly, if you missed the panel or simply want to rewatch or share the event with someone, you can do so here:

In our conversation we offered a list of resources for continued education surrounding our topic. For ease of accessibility those resources are listed again here:

  • The ‘Speak Up’ Handbook is a resource to help show you how you can be an effective ally in a variety of situations.
  • Project implicit from Harvard, gives a variety of tests for you to look inward to your own bias and how to address personal growth.
  • is a fantastic resource for articles surrounding chronic stress and the neuroscience of stress.

As a follow up we wanted to highlight one specific question from the discussion and have each of our panelist, along with our moderator respond.

Question: Why do we highlight the differences between ourselves? How do we figure out how to recognize the similarities rather than instantly identify the differences that the panelist described? It feels Ike this is something that is mostly something that white people do in the US.

Debbie Bensching: We have our foundational neurobiology and we have social psychology involved in this question. Neurologically, all of our brains are hardwired to look for contrast, so we can distinguish between things and in part is connected to our survival systems and learning abilities. It also creates social comparison. A sense of competition in the broadest sense, be it direct or perceived, tends to activate a focus on differences between oneself and another person. A sense of cooperation, actual or perceived, tends to activate a focus on similarities. Of course, in each of these areas there are several variables that play a role in influencing what one notices and how one responds to what is noticed.

Question: Given your personal experience, how do you recognize the similarities rather than identify the differences in people that you meet?

Sandy Moore: I always try to find a common denominator with anyone that I just meet. Usually with a few minutes of talking to each other, I try and ask a few questions to see what I can find. My questions are usually about if they have lived in Portland for a long time / if so what high school did they go to. Also do they have kids, if so, what school (those are just a couple examples). Again, like I mentioned on the call, if you just take time to slow down, ask some questions, be a good listener and get to know someone, 99% of the time, you can find something in common.

Faye Levinsohn: I try to recognize the similarities in people by asking questions that appeal to universal humanity – family, friends, hobbies, career, passions, something as simple as a heartfelt, “how are you?”. or “what did you do last weekend?” Not allowing a ‘difference’ to become a hinderance to basic human connection.

Aaron Paulson: I try to take the undercover boss approach. Sometimes people don’t realize what someone has gone through, or something about them until you get to know them by asking questions that doesn’t put them in an awkward or uncomfortable position out of the gate. I try to ask questions, or dialogue about interests rather than put them in a defensive situation.

Thank you for joining us on January 14th for the third in a series of panel discussions surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. We value the conversations and look forward to the next discussion on March 11th.