Tanya M. Odom is a writer, coach, global consultant and Diversity and Inclusion, equity, and civil rights thought leader. She is African American and Irish American. Odom’s education includes a B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies from Vassar College and a Masters in Education at Harvard University. Tanya contributes to publications like the Huffington Post, cnn.com, Bloomberg News, The Village Voice, and Diversity Woman Magazine. She has written about leadership, diversity, mindfulness, and self-compassion.
Tanya has worked globally over 20 years in 40 different countries. She has focused on topics of Youth empowerment/mentoring, Diversity and Inclusion, Challenging Conversations, Race/Racism, Inclusive Leadership and more. And to top it all off, she’s fluent in Spanish!
Tanya gained her social skills over time, but from an early age and through college, she has developed them. For the first seven years of her life, Odom grew up in a diverse community with people from different backgrounds. Her parents were also interested in social issues and wanted to help others. They ran a drug rehabilitation program, and her interactions with the people in the program began the growth of her social grace. “…My ability to talk to different people, to be a bridge-builder, to be in community with people, and also to just see people that others have deemed as outsiders or other started really, really young,” says Odom. When Tanya was in college, she would have classroom discussions, and a common topic was race. She would hear about difficult situations, from childhood bullying to pay equity. However, when she went into those challenging conversations, she brought her mother’s saying with her. “There are bad acts, not bad people.” I think this is an amazing mindset to have in general, but especially when being involved in conversations that can be difficult to talk about.
With all her experience, Tanya Odom has excellent insight into the multiracial community and how it is evolving. In one article, she expresses how we can be “agile” in our learning about multiracial identity and why it’s important. Multiracial people are one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States. The 2010 census was the second time that people taking the survey could check more than one box concerning their race (2000 was the first time). Due to this new opportunity, demographers have access to more information regarding the multiracial population. From 2000 to 2010 the population of multiracial children in the U.S. went up by 50%. This information will continue to expand and change, so it is important that we continue to give the demographers our information in any way we can! Checking more than one box, or describing your ethnicity, is a great way to do so in surveys like the 2020 census. Did you complete your 2020 Census? Odom says “agility is an important part of learning and awareness in diversity and inclusion.” In one article, Tanya gives several tips to help us be “agile” in our learning about the identity of multiracial people. Two of the tips include letting multiracial people self-identify and learning more about national groups that talk about multiracial identity and families, like Project RACE!
I appreciate Tanya’s hard work and dedication to helping the multiracial community and those in need. Her devotion to helping social issues in this world is amazing, encouraging and inspiring. In an interview for Vassar Quarterly, Odom said she wanted to make a difference, and that is exactly what she is doing!
Madelyn Rempel, Project RACE Kids President