The expression “diversity fatigue” is becoming more
common, just like “diversity, equity, inclusion” and similar terms we
are hearing more often. You may be feeling diversity fatigue if the
thought of discussing or even thinking about diversity issues makes you
feel dispirited and discouraged. You can experience diversity fatigue in
different ways — as a person of color who hears others complain about
diversity, or just as someone who is tired of talking about diversity
issues. Either way, these discussions can begin to feel pointless,
especially when the conversation seems hopeless in terms of creating any
positive change. Take it from someone who has had countless discussions
on diversity with people who have similar viewpoints and with people
who don’t, the topic can be exhausting and leave you feeling as if
you’re talking to a brick wall.
However, there are several reasons why you should keep talking about
diversity and all its related issues, and several ways to overcome
diversity fatigue. It’s vital for all of us to keep the conversation
going because studies, like Atlassian’s 2018 tech survey, “State of
Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S.,” have shown that if we walk away
from the discussion, progress toward a diverse and inclusive world will
slow. We’ve come a long way from 1492, but there’s much more progress to
be made, and impeding it would be taking two steps backward. While the
burden of educating others should not fall on Indigenous communities and
communities of color, we can and should work toward continuing the
discussion and making sure our voices are heard.
Here are some positive ways to handle diversity fatigue when it’s happening to you.
▸ Remind yourself that change is a community effort
and won’t happen overnight. Don’t feel solely responsible for trying to
change people’s minds on diversity — that’s a huge burden for a single
▸ It may seem counterintuitive, but the next step is to pull back a bit.
Fighting the good fight can easily become overwhelming, frustrating,
and extremely tiring. Allow yourself time to rest and recharge, and
you’ll be less likely to feel burned out or hopeless about the situation
and its numerous challenges.
▸ After showing yourself some self-love, emerge and engage
with like-minded folks in your community. Have discussions that remind
you why it’s so important to continue talking. Create a space where
others can feel safe in expressing their personal diversity issues.
Maybe together you can come up with innovative ideas for engaging in a
dialogue with the non-like-minded folks in your community.
▸ Remember how you became resilient, intelligent, courageous, and powerful
— from our ancestors whose blood and spirit runs through you. As the
father of legendary Olympic runner Billy Mills, Oglala Lakota, told his
son, “You have to look deeper, way below the anger, the hurt, the hate,
the jealousy, the self-pity, way down deeper where the dreams lie, son.
Find your dream. It’s the pursuit of the dream that heals you.”
Helina Alvarez, Yaqui, Hopi, and Mexican, was born and raised in
southern California. She received her BS in wildlife management and
conservation at Humboldt State University. In her sophomore year she was
accepted into the Student Career Experience Program (now part of the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pathways Program). After graduation
Alvarez worked with the service full time for five years as a wildlife
refuge specialist on multiple refuges, then was accepted into the
Conservation Leadership through Learning Program at Colorado State
University. She completed her master’s capstone project in Rwanda and
graduated in 2019. Alvarez is still working with the Fish and Wildlife
Service and hopes to pursue a PhD in the near future.