In your home, do you treat guests differently than you treat family members? Now, apply that same thought process to how you might define the difference between diversity and inclusion.

Diversity is defined by the dictionary as “variety, a range of different things,” while inclusion is defined as “the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.”

Stand back and look at those stark differences in definition.

Think of all the people who pass through our daily lives. Do we view them as “variety” or see them being included into our own family? How much more rich and rewarding would our collective lives be if we thought of each other in a family mindset instead of a “range of different things” mindset. 

I know I can do better.

As a member of the Forest Park Diversity Commission, I am thrilled to tell you about an upcoming educational event that will examine these differences and shrink the divide between diversity and inclusion.

Our guest speaker, Dr. Sheila Radford-Hill, chief diversity officer at River Forest’s Dominican University, will take the audience through an experience of examining “Guests or Family,” through a short lecture, some workshop-style exercises, and a question-and-answer session with the audience.

“The title of ‘Guests or Family’,” says Dr. Radford-Hill, “comes from an article titled “When You are Guests in Someone Else’s House.” This article originally referred to how minority groups of students feel in dominant group spaces within colleges and universities.

Dr. Radford-Hill continues, “I am using this trope to open a conversation about who are our neighbors and how do we move from being guests to becoming family. For me, guests involve recognition, empathy, appreciation and connection. Family connotes hospitality, accommodation, welcoming and helping — spaces where you are loved and accepted for who you are.”

Radford-Hill further clarifies the topic by noting, “We live in the same community, but we are not intentional about promoting ongoing engagement, especially with those who are different. Living together in community means that diversity requires ongoing and intentional engagement with those who are different.”

Certain to be a powerful evening for all, I am excited about the Diversity Commission’s first educational event. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Join us for this free event on April 11 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Howard Mohr Community Center, located at 7640 Jackson Blvd in Forest Park. Seating is first-come, first-served. For more information, please contact Kate Webster, Diversity Commission chair, at

Let’s all strive to be more like family and less like variety. 

Scott Watson

Forest Park Diversity Commission member