Dear Carolina Community,
As we turn toward autumn, there are many cultural celebrations ahead. The fall is a perfect time to enjoy the campus and all it has to offer, including the splendor of the diversity within the UNC community.
Consider taking the time to participate in the remaining activities provided by the Carolina Latinx Center in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. With 8.7% of our students being Latinx, and 4% of our full-time faculty and staff, it is important that we understand more about all the members of our community to be truly inclusive. This month’s feature, Latinx Voices at Carolina, gives you an insightful glimpse into the personal experiences of our Latinx colleagues.
National Coming Out Day is October 11th. This is a day when many people who identify as LGBTQ+ will “come out” (a term derived from the phrase “come out of the closet”) to friends or family about their sexual identity. This is a very big moment! Heteronormativity is constructed around silence. All members of our community should have the space and occasion to celebrate who they are. You may want to learn more about how to support the LGBTQ+ community by registering for Safe Zone Training.
October 20th is International Pronoun Day. It is important that we practice referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns negatively affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. It is important that we celebrate people’s multiple intersecting identities.
Finally, October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, when we recognize the many contributions of members of our community who are differently abled. During this time, we honor individuals with disabilities and strive to ensure they are given full access to education, employment and community involvement by ensuring that we are ADA compliant. Contact Accessibility Resources & Service for information and support.
As we look ahead, the upcoming months are filled with multiple holidays and events that will allow us to learn, question, engage, and celebrate.
However, while we may be celebrating national holidays or observing faith-based traditions and enjoying time with family and friends, there are still those members of our community who are faced with life challenges that endanger their health and well-being. These challenges include the devastation of natural disasters, the uncertainty of deportation, and the danger of fleeing from oppressive governments.
Try to offer a listening ear, which can often mean staying silent. Encourage others to share their story. Understanding, compassion and empathy can create a sense of belonging for those who need the support of a UNC family member.
As we celebrate each other, we continue to build a more inclusive community.
Dr. Leah Cox
Vice Provost for Equity & Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer