Making the Louisville Mix Work

by Elaine Salvo, Leadership Louisville Class of 2013 —

Elaine Salvo

Elaine Salvo (LL '13), president, Assumption High School

Our objectives for the eye-opening, conscious-raising, March Leadership Louisville program day were to explore cultures within Louisville and how they help create our city’s identity, to discuss the racial and ethnic issues that are prevalent and impeding growth, and to dialogue how to be leaders of a diverse workforce.  Following a powerful activity that made us aware of the diversity we experience in our work, social, and personal lives (or lack of it), our class heard from a number of leaders representing racially and ethnically diverse areas of our community.  These leaders shared many insights and I found myself developing a list of their statements:

  • Refugees are our asset.
  • Ninety-three languages are spoken in Jefferson County.
  • This country focuses on looks; it’s how we identify people.
  • Democracy breeds racism.
  • People feel most comfortable being among themselves.
  • White male supremacy still exists.
  • You are part of the South – you are polite.
  • If you are an immigrant with a disability, you may not enter the United States.
  • America is the largest monolinguistic country in the world.
  • In spite of this country’s ills, it is still a land of opportunity.
  • We need a diversity strategy, not a diversity program.
  • Dissatisfaction, vision, and taking the first step – with intentionality – will overcome resistance.
  • Our guiding principle should be intentionality.
  • Inclusion is a behavior.
  • Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others.

This day, spent at the beautiful Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, was intense, challenging, and hopeful.  We ended the day with challenges to be more intentional in our views and choices regarding diversity in our work and personal lives and to be authentic in our interactions.

Our day came to a close with two amazing poetry readings and a hip-hop exercise for our entire group.  It was fun, funny, and hopefully not posted on Facebook!