Why I’ve Changed My “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” Philosophy

What is Equity, Diversity and Inclusion you ask?

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, or EDI in most diversity initiative mission statements, is like putting goggly eyes on a dead fish. (Credit to Lauren E. Turner* for the dead fish 👀analogy.)

It’s a superficial, get rich quick way of approaching systematic oppression.

I say “approaching” rather than fighting because fighting systematic oppression is impossible to do without also naming that it exists and that we are taking action to stop it. An example here is the difference between saying, “we are racially diverse” (or in most cases simply “diverse”) vs. “we are anti-racist.” Side note quick tips: Please don’t say you are looking for “diverse candidates” when really you mean people of color; a singular person cannot themselves be “diverse;” and don’t forget to make sure your activism is intersectional fighting for people with disabilities, queer and trans folx, and beyond.

I say “get rich quick” because there are various funders from government entities to foundations to single ticket buyers who are demanding movement on the social justice front. These EDI statements and frankly, superficial initiatives make it easy for folks to accept an appearance of inclusion.

So, I have instead changed my approach, my narrative and my actions. I’m thinking more about decolonization as the umbrella for dismantling all kinds of oppressive systems that stem from white supremacy and other forms of valuing some social identities over others. If colonization as the human idea, and actions to follow, that one group is superior to another group of humans, we actually need to be actively working to decolonize. Decolonize race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, food, housing, energy… the list continues to any issue. Additionally, we need to think about being specifically on this land. In the U.S., on Turtle Island, as our environmental crisis looms. Who was here first and who knows how to take care of the land?

The second part of my new social justice philosophy is about collective liberation. Our collective liberation is tied. I’m not free until you are free. It’s about rejecting any notions of “oppression olympics.” Who benefits from this kind of thinking? The people in power, those who make rules, benefit off of us finding ways to make the fight between us instead of against them.

I’m on a quest for liberation; are you with me?

Trail Sisters by Jeanne Rorex Bridges

*Lauren E. Turner is the Producing Artistic Director of No Dream Deferred NOLA, a New Orleans theatre company, that prioritizes cultural relevance for our community audience. www.nodreamdeferrednola.com


Originally published at vivianavargas.com on December 30, 2018.