SARANAC LAKE — Despite it being part of her official title, Nicole Hylton-Patterson said she doesn’t often use the word “diversity” because it tends to represent just an abundance of different skin colors. She said true inclusion is more than what’s on the surface.
“As an activist-scholar, I don’t use the word ‘diversity’ a lot,” she said. “I use ‘lived experiences.’ My work is about diversity that is not seen but still marginalized, still underserved, still displaced, still left behind. We’re talking about the intersection of race, class, gender, politics and economy. We’re talking about the intersection of ability and national identity. We’re talking about socioeconomic and genetic predisposition.
“If you’re looking for racial diversity, and that’s the only way you’re going to count the use of the Adirondack Park and the people who live here, you’re going to forget the experiences that are going on every day.”
Hylton-Patterson was recently hired as the first Adirondack Diversity Initiative director. The organization was founded in 2014 as the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council, with the goal of creating a more welcoming and inclusive community to people from different walks of life. The group changed its name in 2017. The Adirondack North Country Association adopted the group and acts as its fiscal representation. The ADI’s work was previously done through volunteer efforts until Hylton-Patterson was hired in November.
In addition to her current role as acting director of the Mary T. Clark Center for Religion and Social Justice at Manhattanville College, Hylton-Patterson served as program coordinator for the college’s Center for Inclusion. She has also instructed and coordinated programs in Arizona, Syracuse and Elmira that focus on race and gender studies, justice, diversity and advocacy.
Read the full article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.