Sylvia & Me
Crystal Byrd Farmer: Author ‘The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization’, Educator, Organizer
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Diversity and the ‘Token’

How does one start with be diverse without having a ‘token?’ Meet Crystal Byrd Farmer. She teaches organizations who acknowledge the need for diversity but don’t know where to start. She works with organizations and people who are dedicated to social justice and the diversity of people they want to employ, across identities of race, LGBTQ, education, socioeconomics and disability.

In today’s atmosphere, the topic of diversity and inclusion has become a heated and often misunderstood conversation. Educators and employers have tried many ways to be what they would consider ‘diverse and inclusive’. There’s busing when it comes to schools. In business there’s a certain air of being diverse by having a woman employee, an employee who is a person of color, an older employee, etc. There are ratios of people of diverse colors and cultures, and rules and regulations that have been put in place. Unfortunately, these good intentions can have the opposite result of what was intended. For some, they become the ‘token’.

Crystal Byrd Farmer

Crystal knows firsthand what it is like to be the ‘Token’. Growing up in a lower income black community, Crystal was bused to a middle school in a middle class white community. Crystal became the ‘Token.’

Crystal Byrd Farmer is the author of The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization. No punches pulled, Crystal wrote The Token which has been called provocative, humorous and an accessible guide for well-meaning people who acknowledge the need for diversity but don’t know where to start.

An engineer turned educator, organizer and speaker, Crystal focuses on cohousing Black, and polyamorous communities. Crystal founded the Freedom School in Gastonia, NC. She serves on the Editorial Review board of Communities Magazine and is passionate about encouraging people to change their perspectives on diversity, relationships, and the world. Crystal lives in Gastonia, NC.

This week’s conversation with Crystal is candid and revealing:

  • Being a ‘token’ in middle school
  • Asking a question that can be harmful
  • Macroaggression
  • Bias
  • Privilege – both white and black
  • Freedom School & Self-Directed Learning
  • Doing “The Work’
  • Norms
  • Meetings and location, location, location
  • Recognizing different cultures
  • Ways to be inclusive