A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about Representation–finding and supporting speech-language pathologists who represent the demographics of the diverse students and clients we serve. The words were personal for me. As someone who grew up outside of the majority, my narrative includes hurtful tales as a child, and now, woman of color. The blog post, in turn, was an opportunity to support one valuable subset of our profession. I received feedback that needs to be addressed. The purpose of the post was to support diversity in speech-language therapy. The words were not written to imply that being bilingual or having a specific ethnicity was necessary to support our children from diverse populations.
I’ll be honest. The sentiments of the feedback ruminated in my head and heart for a while. Part of the hurt was on behalf of individuals who felt their efforts were not relevant and valued. This is far from my truth. Now, I share my response to my beloved peers.
Hi, my name is Phuong Palafox, and I wrote the piece on Representation for the Bilinguistics blog. I wanted to reach out to you regarding your feedback.
First, thank you for taking the time to provide your sentiments on the piece. As an SLP with school and clinic caseloads, I understand the daily grind of our job, and time is surely not on our side. For me, receiving feedback is a privilege, and all thoughts from our readers and presentation attendees is thoughtfully received.
Second, it sounds like you and I share a great passion for the meaningful work we do to support our students—especially our children from diverse backgrounds and low-income communities. As SLPs, we differentiate to the needs of each student needing speech-language therapy, and it sounds like you understand the value of supporting the socio-emotional and life (including love, love, love) needs of our students needing that individualized support. Thank you for that.
Last, I wanted to express that the post I wrote is personal. As a person who spends her days existing within a minority group, I will say that representation makes an impact. Is it the sole factor for students success? Absolutely not. In saying that, there is value in it. This topic also affects our peers. Based on my interactions with SLPs and individuals in the midst of acquiring their degrees for our profession, it is a concern for men and women of color in our field, as well.
You are right. The work of all SLPs is meaningful, and I will be the first to speak/shout/cry this message. This is why I travel to all parts of the country to spend time with my peers to advocate for our important role. In saying that, I also acknowledge that in the same way we differentiate to the needs of our students, the same consideration needs to be given to SLPs—giving each person in our field the opportunity to be valued in our profession. I write about this because it is important for our SLPs and students from diverse backgrounds.
We can 1) support diversification in our field and 2) acknowledge the efforts of all SLPs. The two are not mutually exclusive. It is a tough job, and I’m confident we have each other’s backs when it comes to all of our responsibilities.
Again, I thank you for your feedback. Please know that it has made an impact on my brain and heart these last few weeks. I wish you well at the start of this new school year. Here’s to the meaningful work we do.