LWVTC DEI&Justice

Thurston League of Women Voters  DEI & Justice Committee

Purpose

The
DRAFT purpose of the Thurston LWV Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEI & Justice) Advisory Committee is to “lead through the lens of equity” and make a commitment to:

  • Recognize systemic racism exists at all levels and is endemic within our political and social order, including history of the LWV
  • Deepen our understanding of the complexities of community issues to make recommendations to governmental policy makers
  • Support legislation that promotes racial, social and economic justice
  • Become educated and engaged to advocate and promote equity and diversity within the LWV organization
  • Connect with community organizations sharing common values, issues and advocacy strategies
  • Coordinate with and gain knowledge from community organizations that encourage diversity and awareness of justice-related issues within the Thurston LWV community
  • Develop educational programs and participate in activities offered by others to expand knowledge, perspectives and mindfulness to hone Thurston’s DEI and Justice lens

NA Words Matter

In preparation for 2020 Native American Heritage Month, the follow was obtained from the National Park Service website.

 

Words Matter

It’s important to use language correctly in our messaging. Native nations were separated from their home lands due to battles, genocide, and western expansion. There are distinctions among various tribes resulting from geographic location, language, and cultural practices. For example, within the Lakota Nation (aka Sioux), there are seven bands and within one band there are three: Hidasta, Arikara, and Mandan. Within the Cheyenne, there are two: Northern and Southern. It’s similar for the Arapaho, River Crow, Mountain Crow, and others. In addition, there are various regional identities, such as the Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Wetlands, etc.

The Harpers Ferry Center Editorial Style Guide provides guidance for NPS staff and partners. We are also grateful for assistance from CIRCLE, the Council for Indigenous Relevancy, Communication, Leadership, and Excellence employee resource group, in developing this guidance. Here are some specific items that might be helpful:

  • Create, develop, and share educational activities and youth programs related to AI/AN/NH both past and present. AI/AN/NH are contemporary and ‘living’ cultures and that should be conveyed to the staff and to the public.
  • Alaska Native This term refers to the indigneous people of the area. Native Alaskan is anyone from Alaska (including non-indigenous).
  • American Indian Some tribes (and their associated parks) prefer Native American. Use specific tribal name(s) whenever possible, accurate, and appropriate. See also First Nations, tribal names.
  • First Nation, First Nations Refers to aboriginal people in Canada who are neither Inuit (people of the Canadian Arctic) nor Métis (descendants of First Nation people who married Europeans). Often used in the plural in the collective sense, as in a program for First Nations youth. The term is widely used in Canada but is not used in the US, except in connection with Métis whose homelands include northwest Minnesota, North Dakota, or other northern states. See also American Indian.
  • Native American Use if requested by specific tribes or parks. See American Indian.
  • tribal name Use specific tribal name(s) whenever possible, accurate, and appropriate. Also the preference is to use the singular noun: Navajo, Lakota, Tlingit. See also American Indian. Examples: The Navajo entered Canyon de Chelly about 300 years ago. The Anishinaabek fished in Lake Superior.

DEI Language

Here are terms that often causes confusion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by R Peggy Smith (not proof read)  October 12, 2020

Having a common language helps in any conversation.  As steps are taken to increase the diversity of an organizations, it often becomes clear that terminology and word usage can cause misunderstandings.  What may have been common usage at one time may be problematic for some today.  

To get a feeling for this evolution of terminology, I reviewed several books from my library to see how persons who were transported from Africa to "the new world" were referred to over time.

Frederick Douglas wrote during the 1840s and 1850s. He was well educated and was a well known author and orator.  As indicated in the following quotes, he used language of that time. "Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, 'What shall we do with the Negro?' I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us."  "The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the black man's misery."  He often talked about slaves, as a major focus of much of his work.

A Bondwoman's Narrative, is a novel by Hanna Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  It is believed the novel was written in the 1850s.  Hanna Crafts, while writing her narrative, tended to be descriptive, mentioning a person's physical characteristics and moral value.  Her primary reference was to whether a person was a slave or not a slave.  She did describe herself as an "illiterate slave girl to keeper of 'a school for colored children.'

In a literary publication in 1948, this work is described as "A fictionalized biography written in an effusive style, purportedly to be the story of the early life  and escape of one Hanna Crafts, a mulatto, born in Virginia, who lived there, in Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, North Carolina.  From internal evidence it is apparent that the work is that of a Negro who had a narrative gift.  Interesting for its content and implications.  Believed to be unpublished." 

Moving ahead a century, the works of James Baldwin provide materials reflective of the mid-20th century.  Baldwin refer to white people and black people when describing individuals. But he uses the term Negro when talking about people in the context of their group identity. 

As mentioned earlier, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was the editor Hanna Crafts novel, which was published in 2002.  Throughout the notes Gates wrote in the editor's introduction, he consistently used the word black to refer to persons of color, be they writers, historical figures, or characters in stories. He did, however, refer to Hanna Crafts as the first female African-American novelist.

Another book written around 2002, Return to Glory, by Alan Grant, is similar to Gates', in that black is used in reference to a person's color, and African-American has a broader group connotation. 

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, published in 2015, brings us closer to present day. Coates' work have many parallels to James Baldwin's, you will not find him using the word Negro.  Typically Coates uses the term black.  He uses it to describe a person's color, their family or group connection, and larger concepts of population.  He also uses the term African American, but often with an implicit connection to slavery's impact.

Now, here we are. I recently became aware of the use of the word Black as a replacement for black. This would be a way to indicate  there is a cultural cohesion related to family, group, or larger population being referenced.   And, here is something I came across just today,  as a League guide to forum questions -- wish it had a date, but you will see the word Black.  The take home message from this blog is: "Be prepared to be wrong."