This is Asma Ali, of AA & Associates LLC, in Chicago and Education Working Group Chair of the Latinx Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) Topical Interest Group. Through the years, I have often been asked why I am an active participant in a diversity TIG that is not representative of my own Indian-American ethnicity. I wanted to answer this question by reflecting on my experiences in the La RED TIG. I am a first-generation Indian American woman who grew up in a small Southeast Texas community with Latinx neighbors, classmates, and friends. However, I was very much part of my own ethnic community.
About a year ago, Grisel Robles-Schrader and I wrote a blog about the role of Allies, “a person who supports, stands up for or empowers another person or group,” in AEA TIGs and provided some tips for working in communities as an ally. My work in La RED and other communities beyond my own ethnicity has provided me with a great opportunity to consider how to be a more effective partner in culturally responsive evaluation and personal relationships. Reflecting on my experiences and our Hot Tips from the Ally article, I offer these extended reflections from last year.
Show up. An important part of being an Ally is showing up and participating actively to advance the goals and work of the group. This includes providing behind the scenes support, as well as more visible support. There are many ways of “showing up” as an evaluator and community member. Offering to support others and stretching my own comfort zone has been a great benefit working with the La RED TIG. Learn more here.
Learn about yourself and others. Working with diversity TIGs this year has provided an excellent opportunity to learn about diversity and inclusion across AEA. It has also provided unparalleled opportunities to reflect on my own motivations and connections with the Latinx community and my own Indian-American community. Beyond just “reaching across the aisle” to learn about others, this work has provided fodder to learn about my own culture, community and history through new connections and relationships. (For example, I learned about my own indigenous family history!). Further, as government policies and practices have changed in recent years, this knowledge has provided opportunities to connect and work together in new ways for common interests. Learn more here.
Handling Missteps. When mis-steps occur, addressing them honestly, openly, and constructively supports resolutions and continued work together. When conversations become difficult it can be tempting to avoid them. However, staying engaged, being open to feedback, and moving forward together encourage even more dialogue and learning. For more resources on fostering dialogue, click here.
What have you learned in your work with other communities that had benefited you own growth, either personally or as an evaluator?
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Multiethnic Issues in Evaluation (MIE) and Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse (La RED) TIGs Week with our colleagues in both the MIE and La RED Topical Interest Groups. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from MIE or La RED TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.