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make God vomit,’ that ‘God didn’t create no homosexuals,’ that same child asked, ‘Well, who created them?’ “The pastor and others then descended on the child, and, in that moment, I found my voice. I heard the Spirit saying to me, ‘Don’t you dare let them do this to the child. I know you better speak up.’ “That was when I understood my call to speak the truth, to protect our children from misguided judgments and ill-informed readings of Journey Scripture.” To arm himself for the journey, Washington earned master’s degrees in higher education administration and counseling with a concentration in human sexuality from Indiana University, Bloomington; a doctoral degree in college student development with a concentration in multicultural education from the University of Maryland, College Park; and a master of divinity from Howard University’s School of Divinity. He has served as an educator and administrator in higher education for more than 20 years, most recently as the assistant vice president for student affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. An ordained minister, he has served as an instructor in sociology, American Studies and education and women’s studies. As he crisscrosses the country speaking to various groups – corporations, governmental agencies, religious congregations and those in higher education – Washington continually detects a common barrier … eggshells. “Everyone is walking on them,” he said. “People don’t know what or how to say what they want when it comes to diversity. There is a real lack of knowledge on just how to start the conversation and when the possibility of controversy and emotion becomes part of the equation, people shut down before they’ve even begun to talk. “Most people don’t feel equipped to speak about these topics or to listen even when given the opportunity. When you consider the mere fact that I’m being invited to help facilitate these discussions, it’s easy to see that people want to be inclusive and want to care about each other, the issues at hand and the perspective of others, they just don’t

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people. Think about your co-workers, your partner, your siblings … you enjoy being with them and building those relationships, but is every day a happy day? Certainly not. “We’re all fully functional individuals with our own views and concerns and when you pair us up or put us in a group, disagreements will arise. It’s how you deal with those disagreements that shape how your world will be. “In order to that, we have to just slow down, breathe, listen, sit back and know that there is deeper understanding that will help all of us get to a better place. Our country is facing a lot of challenges at the moment and yes, we are a country divided by a great many things, but it’s not hopeless. “We need to realize, however, that there are not any quick fixes. We just have to operate from that place that all things are possible and aspire to look for solutions where we may not have otherwise ventured before, outside our comfort zones.” Washington invites his audiences to share real stories about their experiences in order to find out where confusions may have occurred, and what they may have found to be unfair so that “a way through the clutter” can be found and used as a foundation for growth. “It’s about holding each other accountable,” said Washington. “We all need to learn that our words and actions have impact on others and can do harm, even if we didn’t intend to do so, when we engage with others. It’s bringing our hearts and minds together that can help us to find a common understanding. That takes practice and learning to let go of assumptions in order to move forward. “If I say that I care about my fellow man, how does that show in my behavior? If you’re going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.”

We all need to learn that our words and actions have impact on others and can do harm, even if we didn’t intend to do so, when we engage with others. It’s about bringing our hearts and minds together that can help us to find a common understanding. That takes practice and learning to let go of assumptions in order to move forward.

always know how to engage one another. At the heart of it all, and it’s rather simple, is just listening.” Washington, named by The Economist as one of the top 10 global diversity consultants in the world, said that in addition to listening, there needs to be an understanding that inevitably, conflict will be part of the conversation as it is with all relationships. “There is no way to build a more inclusive world without there being conflict and discomfort,” he said. “But that is all part of our growth as

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Rock Magazine Summer 2017  
Rock Magazine Summer 2017  
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