Deborah Plummer: Achieving Racial Equity…One Friend at a Time

July 22, 2020 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Salem Athenaeum—Online
Suggested Donation:$5-$20
Salem Athenaeum
Cross-racial friendships that foster inter-group contact remain one of the most effective methods of improving race relations. They are successive approximations toward the goal of the beloved community, bringing us closer to a shared American experience, moving us from separate and unequal to together and equal. Cross-racial friends have the power to reduce bias and change cultural beliefs not just for the individual dyad; they hold the potential for positive change for their families and their circle of friends. Over time, these friendships have profound effects on healing divisions among different racial groups and fostering racial equity. Yet, most Americans do not have friends of a different race. This presentation will examine the factors for why that it is so.



Deborah L. Plummer, PhD, is a psychologist, university professor, author, and speaker on topics central to racial equality, inclusion, and mutual respect. Her groundbreaking and timely book, Some of My Friends Are…The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross Racial Friendships (Beacon Press) examines race relations through the lens of friendships, exploring how cross-racial friendships work and fail within American society. She is also the editor of the Handbook of Diversity Management (Rowman and Littlefield) and author of Advancing Inclusion: A Guide for Effective Diversity Council and Employee Resource Group Membership (Half Dozen Publications), and award-winning Racing Across the Lines: Changing Race Relations through Friendships (Pilgrim Press).

She has written for Diversity Executive, Boston Globe Magazine, and Medium and has authored several book chapters and published numerous journal articles for the professional academic community. Her essay “The Girl from the Ghetto” is published in the anthology All of the Women in My Family Sing: Women Write the World, Essays on Equality, Justice and Freedom (NBTT Press).

As a scholar-practitioner, Debbie has designed several assessment tools: Antiracist Style Indicator (ASI), Racial Identity Self-Assessment Inventory (RISAI) and the Diversity Engagement Survey (DES). Her work has been featured in several media outlets and she has served for many years as an expert commentator for several news outlets.

Debbie has held past roles as an academic medical center vice chancellor, hospital system chief diversity officer, staff psychologist, tenured psychology professor, and founding director of a graduate degree program in diversity management. She has been named by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the Top 15 Chief Diversity Officers to Know.

Debbie currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, Michael Bussey where she serves on the boards of Nana’sTribe Foundation, Books@Work, and Positive Education Program (PEP). She considers her second home to be the Greater Boston area where she cherishes her work with Facing History and Ourselves, a non-profit, international educational and professional development organization, and is a proud board member of GrubStreet, a leading narrative arts center located in Boston. In her next life, she plans to come back as a master chef (think Ina Garten) or a singer, dancer and entertainer (think Beyonce).