Diversity conference teaches 'blonde' label immobilizes women

Missouri State University is hosting a Statewide Collaborative Diversity Conference, during which it will teach students that labeling women as ‘blonde’ is a form of identity theft that immobilizes them.

As part of a statewide conference, hosted by Missouri State University in Springfield, a lecture titled “ That’s a blonde remark: Gendered communication in the workplace,” aims to educate students on how, “ Labels like “blonde” function as a form of identity theft, designed to reduce the recipient’s possibilities for action and immobilize others who embody the same characteristics. “

Other such lectures include “ Heathens in action: A brief glimpse of the atheist/agnostic movement,” which will “focus on the subculture of atheists/agnostics.”

Another lecture, “How to be an ally (How not to be an a**hole),” will teach students to create a “safe space” for coworkers, how to be more intersectional, and how to deal with someone who won’t stop making offensive comments.

A fourth session, “ The power of respectful languages,” will teach “the best practices for oral and written communication in the workplace.”

This is the fourth annual SCDC, and this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Maura Cullen, who has a PhD in Social Justice and Diversity Education, is considered “one of the nation’s foremost authorities on diversity issues on college campuses today.”

Another speaker at the conference, retired Major Stephen Snyder-Hill of the US Army, is a gay rights activist who married his husband on the Supreme Court steps to protest the Defense of Marriage Act. He wonders, “What if Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. or Harvey Milk thought their voice wouldn’t matter? What would history be today?”

In addition, the conference will feature a performance by Sister Outsider Poetry, a spoken word duo whose work centers around hot-button issues. According to the conference website, “Through spoken word, Sister Outsider connects deeply personal stories to a diverse range of social and political issues... and how those tie into being an “other.” They write their “otherness” into the center and encourage others, particularly those in marginalized communities, to do the same.”

The conference also awards an annual “ Statewide Diversity Champion Award” to individuals “for their innovative and committed service to an under-represented population or cause in the state of Missouri.”

The Statewide Collaborative Diversity Conference is sponsored by multiple entities including the Missouri Bar, the City of Springfield, Missouri, the Springfield News-Leader, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Saint Louis University, and William-Jewell College.

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