There has been a popular image circulating the internet that details the concepts of “equality,” “equity”, and “justice.” Many people have shared that image on social media in an attempt to educate those who are less aware of marginalization tactics and the dominant narrative. While countless organizations claim to address the issues, there are several flaws with approaching marginalization without confronting the issues either with those afflicted or those coping with the fallout from the issues. (For a detailed description of these flaws, one could read No More Heroes, by Jordan Flaherty.) However, many people are truly wondering what can be done to be more intersectional and inclusive.
Foremost, the discussion must give an actual voice to those invited from various walks of life. It makes absolutely no difference if the dominant narrative “includes” unheard voices and then offers no real authority for them to disagree or provide new input. When truly seeking “diversity,” one is not seeking merely different opinions because this approach has led to boardrooms composed of people from the dominant narrative. Rather, in seeking participants for the discussion, people with demonstrably different traits with differing opinions should be sought, and more often than not in this stage of dialogue, those people should be the leaders.
Another bad habit of change agencies is to offer credit to anyone from the dominant narrative while people in the actual circumstances get handshakes and other physical demonstrations. Consequently, only certain people are paid for diversity and inclusion work while others are given scant acknowledgment, but cannot use that experience to advance their careers or change their circumstances. If groups are truly interested in mitigating the problems of the afflicted, everyone involved in the process–including the marginalized–should receive recognition for doing the work. Unpaid labor of all sorts is detrimental to genuine equity.
Going to the same people to address the same issues is the most egregious offense of those claiming empathy for distressed populations. During the first Civil Rights Movement, people were informed slowly relative to today, there were certain names that stuck out, and only a few people were well-known. With all the communication that exists in the modern era, there should never be a committee with people who have served on a committee before, and no one should have a monopoly on discussing oppression. Everyone who has made extra effort on a number of occasions should be recognized and sought by decision-makers.
Organizations are working with both public and private entities, and one such organization is Untokening, to change the aforementioned habits. This group works specifically to address mobility issues, understanding that being able to traverse a community makes a substantial difference of how one is able to live. When there is one marginalized person in the room or even two, the dominant narrative rationalizes ignoring those people in favor of the status quo. Deliberate action can affect real change, and people are beginning to admit such truth. Altering the way intersection and inclusion are addressed is critical to actually achieving those ends.