Diversity and Inclusion isn't my problem- it's yours.
Updated: Mar 20
Today, I took part in some research on diversity and inclusion. Part of me is glad that I did, but the other half just wanted to weep.
For anyone conducting this type of research please stop and think about what diversity and inclusion is and isn't:
1.Diversity and inclusion = diversity of thought and better outcomes for all.
No, as if you have a bunch of people with broadly similar views in a group, regardless of skin colour, sex, disability etc, then it's an 'echo chamber' of affirmation. Also, diversity and inclusion on its own doesn't tackle structural systematic inequalities.
2. Diversity and Inclusion = harmony.
It doesn't, as we are all unique individuals with our own agendas. Just because we may share the same skin colour, sex and/or disability doesn't mean we share the love.
3. A lack of diversity and inclusion is our fault.
Racialised people are not deficit and we do not need 'saving'. Look closer to home as to who is causing inequalities and why. This is where structural systematic inequalities lie, not at our doorsteps.
4. Racialised people are psychic.
If we are not made aware of opportunities how can we take them so there can be D&I (see point 3)
5. Racialised people don't take up opportunities.
If we are locked out of systems, it gives the false impression that we aren't trying and a lack of diversity and inclusion is an inevitable consequence of our inaction (see points 3 and 4).
6. Marketing campaigns, recruitment drives etc increase diversity and inclusion.
How much more PR is needed. Not a day goes past without some initiative, however, this approach misses the reality (see points 3, 4 and 5)
7. Diversity and inclusion research is democratic and leads to change
It should be and should do, however, when the research has been created by white people without any diverse voices as part of this process, how democratic is it? And with this being the case, what change can it really effect, as whose perspective is being projected?
As can be seen from points 3-6 the perspective of this type of research is not usually based on the actual people facing inequalities. If the questions have been set up to see diversity and inclusion from a white lens, then unless the people around the table are prepared to challenge their assumptions, they will just be validated as being correct.
But, I hear you cry, surely racialised people will stand up and be counted- well no because of the way we have been racialised. We often, without thinking, repeat, support and prop up their way of thinking as being true, when it's not. Plus, as racialised people, we don't like rocking the boat or standing out, especially as we've been conditioned to know it's more likely to come with negative consequences than positive ones. So rather than expressing our truths and authentic experiences, we fall in line and say what they want to hear, even when it may not have happened to us or anyone else that we know. Sadly, too many of us have bought into the limited narratives about our lives because that's all we hear and we have internalised them as if they are the only truth and our truths.
Thus, research like this, which is ubiquitous, will continue to happen and go unchallenged because we have yet to break free of the chains of the whiteness that conditions our blackness.
The desire to change is continually let down by still seeing the problem as us, rather than the other way around. We do not cause our own oppression, other people do that to us.
Until this is understood, more of this type of research, which has been churned out for years, will continue and none of it will have any effect as the problem isn't the problem so the solutions are not the ones that are needed.