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November 2010 YP Connections: YP Profile

Jara Sturdivant-Wilson

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Name: Jara Sturdivant-Wilson

Company: Freelance

Title: Consultant

 

It was May 2008. My co-worker Marcia Ghali and I were traveling to Sierra Leone, a tiny country on the western coast of Africa. She’s a first-generation American born to Egyptian-immigrant parents. I’m African American. My family has been in the States for generations.
 

I knew I would be moved when I stepped into a piece of my history, onto the beautiful continent that is Africa. What I did not expect was imagining myself falling to my knees, grabbing handfuls of sand, exclaiming, “My land! My land!”
 

Since that time, Marcia and I have been coversing about multiculturalism. We were both working at an international non-profit called Word Made Flesh, which holds multiculturalism as one of their core values. The trouble is, the staff is predominantly white. The staff members raise support—a paradigm that works much better for whites than non-whites, it seems. While Marcia and I didn’t solve the problem for Word Made Flesh, we did something important. We started a conversation, and it’s a conversation I want to continue.
 

I moved on from Word Made Flesh at the end of September after five years. I plan to pursue more freelance and consulting opportunities. This year, I became the Chairperson for the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee for the YP.
 

I’m 29 years old, and I want to imagine the possibilities of an Omaha known for its inclusion and hospitality. Although diversity and inclusion are words that are thrown around pretty regularly, they aren’t words we always know how to use. Accepting the chairperson position to discuss these ideas of diversity and inclusion was fairly intimidating at first. This is the first committee of its kind in the Young Professional Committee.
 

Our committee meetings consist of time spent reflecting on Peter Block’s book, “Community: The Structure of Belonging,” and then we move into more business. Being a member of this committee has allowed me to meet different people from around Omaha and share dialogue about our experiences in Omaha and picture the future of Omaha as young professionals.

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