Sorry, but My Pessimism Is Stronger Than Your Diversity Training
If you want to imagine a world without racism, it’s gonna take much more than a kumbaya soundbite
My job has a weekly meeting about diversity, equity, and inclusion, in that order. DEI, that now-mainstream acronym adored by corporations and organizations everywhere since last year’s racial-awareness uprising, are what “diversity trainings” used to be. You remember those. Once a year or so, you’d spend a few hours listening to someone talk about bias, suffer through an awkward role-playing exercise, sign a form in which you pledge to be demonstrably less problematic, and then go back to work and wait for a softer, gentler workplace culture to kick in.
This portion of the meeting didn’t always exist. Last year’s protests did that, particularly the ones where downtown businesses — almost all of whom were White and multimillion-dollar outfits — had their windows kicked in for a couple of days. Say what you will about protests, but property damage gets things done. Well, it gets things to the table. Getting things acted upon is a whole different menu item.
It was during one of these meetings that a colleague posed the following question: What would the world be like if racism were eradicated in people’s hearts and minds?
In the interest of full disclosure: I let loose an audible chuckle, which is 90% more participation than I typically display in such settings.
The level at which the average company deigns to tackle something as vast and ancient as racism is generally not intended for people like me, people who wrangle with racism in their free time as well as on the clock. Engagement like that is for people for whom racism is random and optional, not reliable. I was already doing the most just by exhaling in the direction of that question.
The question wasn’t as baldly Pollyanna-ish as it sounds. There was some pre-work and reading that was assigned prior to this particular meeting, so the query was meant as a tool, one meant to divine awareness about the systemic nature of racism. Seeing as…