By Mark Eyerly

At the Feb. 10 open virtual meeting of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, Grayson Thompson, assistant director and coordinator of gender and sexualilty programs in the Office of Intercultural Development, called on 30 attendees from across our campus community to become accomplices to marginalized people who struggle for equality in society.

“For many, being an ally doesn’t mean a significant risk. That’s the next step,” Grayson said. “When I advocate for people, I take risks.” That means being an accomplice willing to confront friends, family, and others who disparage people based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other attributes.

Citing the work of Bowling Green Professor Dafina-Lazarus Stewart, he added: “I don’t believe in diversity and inclusion; I believe in equity and justice.”

  • “Diversity asks, ‘Who’s in the room?’ Equity responds: ‘Who is trying to get in the room but can’t? Whose presence in the room is under constant threat of erasure?’”
  • “Inclusion asks, ‘Has everyone’s ideas been heard?’ Justice responds, ‘Whose ideas won’t be taken as seriously because they aren’t in the majority?’”
  • “Diversity asks, ‘How many more of [pick any minoritized identity] group do we have this year than last?’ Equity responds, ‘What conditions have we created that maintain certain groups as the perpetual majority here?’”
  • “Inclusion asks, ‘Is this environment safe for everyone to feel like they belong?’ Justice challenges, ‘Whose safety is being sacrificed and minimized to allow others to be comfortable maintaining dehumanizing views?’”
  • “Diversity asks, ‘Isn’t it separatist to provide funding for safe spaces and separate student centers?’ Equity answers, ‘What are people experiencing on campus that they don’t feel safe when isolated and separated from others like themselves?’”
  • “Inclusion asks, ‘Wouldn’t it be a great program to have a panel debate Black Lives Matter? We had a Black Lives Matter activist here last semester, so this semester we should invite someone from the alt-right.’ Justice answers, ‘Why would we allow the humanity and dignity of people or our students to be the subject of debate or the target of harassment and hate speech?’”
  • “Diversity celebrates increases in numbers that still reflect minoritized status on campus and incremental growth. Equity celebrates reductions in harm, revisions to abusive systems, and increases in supports for people’s life chances as reported by those who have been targeted.”
  • “Inclusion celebrates awards for initiatives and credits itself for having a diverse candidate pool. Justice celebrates getting rid of practices and policies that were having disparate impacts on minoritized groups.”

The next public meeting of the DEI Council will be held at 1 p.m. on Feb. 24; the topic is religious tolerance.

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