This was the keynote to the Guided Pathways: Designing for Equity – Rendezvous 2018 conference which was led by Dr. Eddie Moore on Monday, July 23, 2018. According to the program: This session challenges participants to examine their own biases, behaviors, and belief systems. Additionally, they learn how to take action against hatred, bigotry, privilege, and oppression. We need more leaders for social justice and equity across America. Do you have the skills and ability to lead?
These are my notes and not a complete representation of his presentation. He asked for a level of engagement on the issues of diversity that matches the level of the times. He said “it must be pretty fricken’ awesome to be a white person right now.” He started by talking about how white supremacists were marching in the street and are now in the White House. What should the work look like? We may have diversity on campuses, but how is the power shared? How are decisions made?
He wants to give us an over-view of 20 years of his work and experience. He asks us if we really care or “give a shit.” The shifts we are seeing in the supreme court and politics are going to effect us 20 years out. Does your portfolio match the time we are in? When he talks about “the times” he is thinking about and trying to process the kind of culture where black people are getting the cops called on them for every day actions.
He discussed the changes in his life after being raised in a black community in Florida and being sent to Mt. Vernon, Iowa by his mother and basketball coach to get out of trouble (his older brothers all went to prison).
Commitments to diversity requires proof. He needs evidence – he wants to know the work we are doing. The work is about skills. What changes will we make in the next two years. After 20 years, he said that everyone needs to do more work. How are we gauging whether people are committed to diversity? Diversity is the only subject we are fine with leaving people at the “101” level.
- This work is about the skills, not just for white people.
- The world is changing – we need white women in positions of power. Celebrating diversity while replicating white culture dominance.
- Integration without preparation does not work.
- Can you be a racist and not even know it? We are doing oppressive stuff and not even knowing it.
- You can’t say “diversity” without talking about diversity, power, and privilege.
- We need a plan. Our conference is not enough to solve the problem.
He mentioned a video on the SAT that shows how the SAT was created by a white supremacist. He then showed Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” After watching it, we were asked to: summarize it in one word, figure out where the artistic genius is in the video, and find the connection to the video/conference. He then showed the women’s version of the film. It was interesting because the latinas in the room said things like “this is misappropriation” and “the white people have drugs to deal with your problems because many people of color do not have access to health care.” People in the audience seemed to not like the women’s version of that – one said that “the women’s edit steals another cultures work” and looses the message. Most of the comments were about misappropriation and against “what-about-me-ism.” Dr. Moore kept leading it back to the “Robin Hood” idea that good can come from stealing. He brought it back to the “dynamics of race” and stimulating future conversations.
At the end of the talk he used an image that discussed the difference between equality, equity, and justice. How is an institution started by white supremacy get to a place of justice? We are asking organizations designed to be unequal to now do equity. He asks if our vocabulary around diversity changed over the last 20 years. If we have to prove our commitment to diversity, what would we show? Vocabulary is a way to do that.
He discussed the rise of social media and the consequences using Rosanne Barr and other figures.