An inclusive mindset creates a sense of community

An inclusive mindset creates a sense
of community

We all deserve to be heard and to be seen. When this happens, our light is illuminated. Social belonging is a fundamental need. Our mental well-being is impacted in an immensely positive way if we feel a sense of community and connection through ourselves and others. When we experience belonging and inclusion, we are able to be our true and authentic selves.

Being inclusive means including everyone, regardless of someone’s race, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, and religion – and specifically those who have been historically excluded. It also encompasses open-mindedness and empathizing with others’ experiences. It can allow us to look within and explore our own backgrounds and biases and what action we can take to improve our mindsets.

Let’s work together towards being more inclusive!

  • Remember: Words do matter; use language that is empathetic and open. (Example: use appropriate pronouns.)
  • Take action: Educate, join groups, share resources, and advocate for others.
  • Meet people where they are: Remember, not everyone is on the same journey, and we do not know others’ struggles, triggers, and life experiences. Respect others.
  • Identify barriers: Thinking about our own biases and reflecting on how we can improve.
  • Celebrate successes: Acknowledge and recognize each small success as we work toward a more inclusive environment. This creates a large and sustaining impact collectively that will change the world.

June is a month to reflect on Juneteenth and Pride. Let’s take a moment to recognize the importance of both holidays.

Juneteenth-Where did it begin?

On June 19, 1865, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas, celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. Gen. Gordon Granger read the news, “All slaves are free.” The immediate celebration began in the local Black community, and the date was commemorated the following year.

From then on, June 19 became Juneteeth and was honored through various activities, including dances, games, food, prayer, speeches, and the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth also represents the acknowledgment that slavery is this country’s original sin. Even though slavery ended in 1865, “the desire to master and dominate Black bodies did not,” according to Dominican University’s African American Studies about Juneteenth

In 1979, state Rep. Al Edwards of Texas introduced House Bill 16, an effort to make Juneteenth a state holiday. On June 7, 1979, the bill was signed, and it became the first official emancipation state holiday.

Juneteenth also became an official U.S. holiday on June 17, 2021, signed into law by President Joe Biden. This came after the unjust and brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. This holiday is the first to acknowledge Black lives since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

How to honor Juneteenth:

  • Educate yourself and raise awareness: Learn about the history (Critical Race Theory)
  • Support Black businesses on this day, and every day
  • Discuss ways everyone can rebuild for the greater good by connecting with members of the community
  • Use your voice to advocate this significant day
  • Participate in programs that include Black history
  • Empathize and listen: The Black community has suffered immensely throughout the years and still suffers today

There are available resources and support in our community, including the Black Scranton Project.

“The Black Scranton Project exposes our community to the historic narratives of the African American community of Scranton, PA, and cultivates awareness and unity through arts and public history,” according to the Black Scranton Project.

The Black Scranton Project hosts several community events each year, including the Juneteenth Jubilee, which will be held on June 17 this year. The Black Scranton Project hung the Pan-African flag in the heart of Scranton at City Hall, representing all Black lives.

Employees share their reflections on what Juneteenth means to them

What Juneteenth means to me:

“This is not just a holiday that is fixed or made up and has only one meaning. It has multiple meanings to people of the African-American community within the United States. It’s a continuous struggle, a continuous fight, and a continuous place of remembrance. Even though there is so much more work to be done and more knowledge to pass along, I will continue to celebrate the freedoms we have compared to those who came before us, my ancestors.”

– Mitshawn Wilson-Patterson
Collection Specialist

“Freedom & Overcome:” Remembering all the struggles and opposition that my ancestors went through and overcame.”

-Kouvaris Bibbins
Project Manager


Pride began after the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, New York, where police brutality took over a small dive bar called Stonewall Inn. Individuals were arrested for simply being trans or gender non-conforming at a time when it was labeled illegal. This night shaped awareness and the powerful movement towards the LGBTQ+ community. However, it took 30 years for Pride Month to become official in a 1999 proclamation from former President Bill Clinton.

We must remember that even though there has been progress and support towards the LGBTQ+ community, there still is a lot of work to be done.

Pride Month in June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ minority community that has historically been denied access to public places, protection under certain laws, told their sexuality is a mental health diagnosis, and that they must use horrible methods to strip the essence of who they truly are. Let’s rise up and stand united during pride month and every day.

Let’s work to support the LGBTQ+ community

  • Honoring someone’s pronouns: Asking someone what their pronouns are and respecting how they want to be identified can create a sense of belonging to that individual.  
  • Empathize and listen: The LGBTQ+ community has endured a great deal. Take time to listen to their experiences and story. Be open and receptive.
  • Take responsibility for your actions, privileges, and experiences: Be aware of your biases and what you can do to change them.
  • Commit to doing better: Join groups, educate, stand up for the community, and learn about the resources available so you can help and advocate for others.

There are available resources and support in our community, including Rainbow Alliance, which holds community events throughout the year, including PrideFest on Sunday, June 25. The Wright Center for Community Health’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Clinic is the presenting sponsor for the Rainbow Alliance’s annual PrideFest Parade and Celebration. The parade begins at noon, with the celebration to follow on Public Square until 4 p.m. I look forward to seeing you joining the parade with your colleagues at The Wright Center.

Employees share their reflections on what Juneteenth means to them

“To me, Pride means being your authentic self. Learning how to show the world your true colors and speaking up for people who can’t find their voice. Pride is about standing together, united, and lifting each other up.”

– Joe Farley
Ryan White HIV/AIDS Clinic, HIV Program Assistant

“Dignity, compassion, equality, and awareness that as human beings we are indistinguishable. Celebrating Pride shows that we can transform the world every day through our actions to and for one another by the way we touch each other’s lives. We each have the choice to make the decision to be in service to others by exemplifying commitment in action if we show up, stand up, speak out, or sit in. Solidarity with our LGBTQ+ community is a transformational act of solidarity.”

-Kara Seitzinger
Executive Director of Public Affairs and ADV Liaison to the President and CEO

“Pride for me is letting go of shame and no longer feeling insecure about who I am. It’s also about being proud of taking the road less traveled.”

-Ann Hart
Director, Graduate, and Undergraduate Medical Education Experience

Thank you,

Allison LaRussa, B.A., CPS, RYT
Director, Health Humanities
The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education