Guest speaker Karith Foster redefines diversity


Guest speaker Karith Foster gave a speech on diversity in the First Energy Auditorium in Franklin Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.

Carrie George

Karith Foster, a speaker, humorist, author and diversity engagement specialist, presented her Stereotyped 101: An Exploration in Unconscious Bias speech on Sept. 13 in Franklin Hall.

The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Student Media and the Public Relations Student Society of America came together to bring Foster to campus.

In her presentation, Foster said she wanted to have a different conversation about diversity.    

“I think the word ‘diversity’ has been hijacked,” Foster said.

Instead, she used her own word: “Inversity” is Foster’s approach to take division out of diversity.

“It’s also about introspection,” she said. “It’s about understanding your worth, your reality and where you came from.”

Latisha Ellison, a senior public relations major and president of PRSSA, heard Foster speak previously at a national PRSSA conference.

Ellison said Foster’s speech at the conference both touched her and made her laugh.

“We are always trying to work on our diversity and inclusion, and it’s not always easy,” Ellison said. “(Foster) is the perfect person to keep us moving forward.”

Francesca Barrett, a sophomore public relations major, researched Foster before attending the event.

“She’s funny as heck,” Barrett said. “She really puts life in perspective.”

Foster said she often relies on humor as not only a mode of communication, but as a coping mechanism.

“I think that is a big thing in life: finding humor from pain,” Foster said.

Foster also uses comedy to spread positivity, and added that she would never use her comedy to spread negativity about people.

Abigail Large, a freshman communication studies major, said coming from a town that lacked diversity encouraged her to attend the event.

“My perspective is probably smaller and more limited,” Large said.

She came to the event to learn more about the barrier between different people.

Foster explained the goal of the program was to have students C.A.R.E., an acronym that stands for conscious empathy, active listening, responsible reactions and environmental awareness.

Foster asked the audience: “Are you reaching out to students who are different to you, or are you staying in your own little bubble because it’s safe?” 

Carrie George is the diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].