- Allen, B. (2010). Difference matters: Communicating social identity. Longrove, IL: Waveland Press.
- Bordas, J. (2007). Salsa, soul, and spirit: Leadership for a multicultual age. San Francisco, CA: Berrett Koehler.
- Hooks, bell (2000) Where we stand: Class matters. New York, NY: Routledge
Leadership and Diversity was my first academic experience focused on exploring the role of race, class, and gender. Through this course, I began to identify the influence of these roles on my life and my leadership experience. This course began with an exploration of my own worldview and my identity, and then moved into exploring the influence of gender and race stereotypes on our lives. At this point, Leadership and Diversity was the most challenging course in the program, one that forced me to genuinely reflect on my life and my own biases. This course was the first to deeply challenge my approaches to leadership, largely through the work of Allen and Hooks. Both books laid out an alternative history of the world, a history that was unavailable to me as a white, middle-income male. Most challenging to me was the work of bell hooks (2000) and her discussion of the role of class. Our nation has become more comfortable discussing race and gender, though we still have a long way to go, but class is a subject that we frequently avoid. Over the past generation, our nation has seen a stagnation of income for the middle class and an increasing concentration of wealth in the upper levels of our society. What challenges us here is that many people who are in middle to lower-income situations aspire to be more wealthy, so they are cautious to actively discuss the oppression that exists in our society, because they, ultimately, aspire to reach that higher level. We, as a society and as individuals, ignore the systemic oppression that exists across class lines. We work to ascribe this difference to variations in work ethic or offer platitudes about how everyone can be whatever they want to be if they work for their success. But this approach ignores the cultural and societal limitations that we have created that keep people in their places and deny true equality to all. If you desire to be truly challenged, in what you perceive and what you believe about race, then this course, and these texts, provide all the fodder you need to be uncomfortable.