Featuring Deborah L. Plummer, Ph.D.,
Deborah L. Plummer, Ph.D., is the editor of the Handbook of Diversity Management (Rowman & Littlefield) and author of Racing Across the Lines: Changing Race Relations through Friendship (Pilgrim Press), which received the publisher’s Mayflower Award for best publication in the category of church and society. As a psychologist, university professor and chief diversity officer, she has also authored several book chapters and published numerous journal articles for the academic community. She has written for Diversity Executive and Globe Magazine and is a proud board member of GrubStreet, one of the nation’s leading creative writing centers, located in Boston. You can find more information at www.dlplummer.com.
We had a chance to interview author Deborah L. Plummer, whose essay "The Girl from the Ghetto" appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned...
What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?
I grew up in a household of women with five sisters and my mom. My dad and younger brother were definitely a part of the family but the power and energy of women have been a part of my experience all of my life. I attended an all-girls high school and women’s college and had my first co-ed educational experience since elementary school in graduate school. I never doubted the power of women. The title of the anthology was so compelling and the call for essays was so inviting. How could I resist?
What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the 21st century?
Given the zeitgeist created as the result of this last election cycle and the under the current administration trying to position myself as a legitimate voice again after living through the 70s and 80s is mind boggling. This time I am much more aware of my multiple and intersecting identities as a black woman, a “young old” woman, a highly educated woman, a women of financial means, an able-bodied woman, and the list continues. It is both challenging and wonderful to engage with others in through these various dimensions of self.
Give an example of women’s roles in today's social justice movement.
I participated in the Women’s March on Washington in January to add my voice to the hundreds of thousands of women present. Although one of the criticisms of the march was that it did not have a unified agenda, I believe that was also its strength. Personally, I was there for racial and gender equity but also fighting for creating safe, civil and peaceful communities. Women are natural moral compasses in a society that has seemed to lose its way. I am inspired by the women of Nigeria who took their country from utter chaos to some semblance of order. We need to lead the way in the U.S.
What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color?
I have had the privilege of founding and leading a diocesan youth group for teens of color in predominately white private schools, a masters’ degree program in diversity for a university, and my own consulting practice in diversity management which worked successfully with over 85 organizations in the U.S. and U.K. I currently serve as a Chief Diversity Officer for a medical school and hospital system overseeing the system’s embrace of diversity as fundamental to its excellence. I am privileged to serve on the boards of GrubStreet, the nation’s largest literary writing center and Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that empowers people to think critically about history and to understand the impact of their choices.
What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?
I hope they experience happiness from the community of women’s voices, and empowerment in their own journey whatever that might be.