A standing LWVTC Board Agenda item, for the last couple of years, has been Let' Talk About Race. This has also been the period of increased attention at all levels of League about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. With encouragement and direction from LWVUS, our League established a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Committee in October 2020.
Initial focus for this committee was to include more members and allies in conversations around the aspects of our charge. Definitions have been provided by LWVUS for the following three terms.
Diversity includes all of the similarities and differences among people, not limited to: gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, native or indigenous origin, age, generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic status, appearance, language, accent, ability status, mental health, education, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role function, thinking style, personality type, physical appearance, and political perspective or affiliation.
Diversity refers to population groups that have been historically underrepresented in socially, politically, or economically powerful institutions and organizations. These groups include but are not restricted to populations of color, such as African Americans and Blacks, Latinx, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. They may also include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations, people with disabilities, women, and other groups.
A team can be diverse and so can an organization. A person is not diverse. Diversity is about a collective or a group and can only exist in relationship to others. A candidate is not diverse—they are a unique, individual unit. They may bring diversity to your team, but they in themselves are not diverse. They are a woman; they are a person of color; they are part of the LGBTQ community.
Equity is an approach based in fairness to ensuring everyone is given equal opportunity; this means that resources may be divided and shared unequally to make sure that each person has a fair chance to succeed. Equity takes into account that people have different access to resources because of system of oppression and privilege. Equity seeks to balance that disparity.
Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources, including professional growth opportunities. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.
Equity prioritizes efforts to ensure the most underserved and marginalized among us has as much of an opportunity to succeed as the most well-served and advantaged. By taking into account the various advantages and disadvantages that people face, we work to ensure every person has an equal opportunity to succeed.
Inclusion is an ongoing process, not a static state of being.
Inclusion is the dynamic state of operating in which diversity is leveraged to create a healthy, high-performing organization and community.
Inclusion refers to the degree to which diverse individuals are able to participate fully in the decision-making processes within an organization or group.
An inclusive environment ensures equitable access to resources and opportunities for all. It also enables individuals and groups to feel safe, respected, engaged, motivated, and valued for who they are and for their contributions toward organizational and societal goals.
While an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group is not always inclusive. Being aware of unconscious or implicit bias can help organizations better address issues of inclusivity.
“Systemic racism entitles one ethnic group to enjoy certain rights and privileges while denying other groups in that society the same rights and privileges. Institutional racism is the racial attitudes held by an ethnic group that are so ingrained they become accepted as facts and normal behavioral practices, thus marginalizing and demonizing another ethnic group"
Thurston League of Women Voters DEI & Justice Committee March 19, 2021 STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF AAPI COMMUNITY
The Thurston LWV and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Committee embrace the statement by LWVUS on March 18th and stand in solidarity with Asian American Pacific Islander communities - especially during this time of fear and violence.
Along with many others, we mourn with AAPI families, friends and neighbors who have lost loved ones and who experience racial terror and humiliation at the hands of white people.
Cynthia Stewart’s (Tacoma-Pierce County LWV President) June 1, 2020 open letter ( HERE ) states, “The League of Women Voters is prioritizing equity in its work right now. But nothing will change unless the majority of us say, if not now, then when?"
The Thurston LWV urges local League members and supporters to show up by connecting, learning and standing with our communities of color.
Below are just two current opportunities among others.
To learn more, go to https://www.lwvthurston.org/calendar
*TALK ABOUT RACE BOOK GROUP - Sunday, April 16, 2021 Cast, by Michelle Wilkinson
*RACE & CIVICS ENGAGEMENT DIALOGUE - Saturday, March 27th 9:30am - 12:00pm Initiated by the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition-South Puget Sound Chapter and Looking Back Moving Forward, cosponsors include the League of Women Voters of Thurston County, Heartsparkle Players-Playback Theatre Company, and Window Seat Media.
Using the framework suggested by the speakers, attendees will participate in facilitated breakout groups that will encourage the telling of our own stories, listening to others, and engaging in conversations that heal the racial divide.
Indeed - if not now, then when?
From the LWVUS:
LWVUS and LWVGA Condemn Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders
3/18/2021WASHINGTON – Today the League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of Georgia issued the following statement in response to the rise in hate crimes against the AAPI community, including the mass shootings across Atlanta on March 16th:
“The League of Women Voters grieves the murders of the eight individuals who were killed on Tuesday, March 16th, and the countless other AAPI lives that have been tragically taken as a result of racially motivated violence. We mourn those who have lost their lives or been harmed, mentally or physically, as a result of anti-Asian xenophobia and racism.
“Anti-AAPI racism is not new to our country, whose history includes the creation of internment camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act which prohibited Chinese laborers, as well as countless acts of violence. Yet in the past year, we have witnessed a disturbing increase in attacks targeting AAPIs, often in connection with myths about COVID-19.
“Together, the League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of Georgia call on law enforcement officials to seek justice for those murdered on Tuesday night. Additionally, we urge Attorney General Garland and FBI Director Wray to prioritize the investigation of anti-AAPI hate crimes. We cannot fight the racism, hate, and impunity that threaten the lives of AAPIs unless our leadership takes the necessary actions to denounce racist violence and demand accountability in its wake.
"The League stands in solidarity with AAPI communities. We are committed to listening to and amplifying AAPI voices and educating ourselves on the historic and ongoing systemic racism that plagues this country so that we can be better allies.
“We urge our followers to do the same, and to call on elected and appointed officials at all levels of government to demonstrate their commitment to keeping ALL communities safe. There can be no liberty in the face of racist and xenophobic violence.”
Contact: Lilly McGee | 202-263-1329 | [email protected]
In preparation for 2020 Native American Heritage Month, the follow was obtained from the National Park Service website.
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.
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."