The recent controversy surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the Carmel Clay Schools has been both enlightening and disheartening. As a result, there are some uncomfortable truths that need discussion.
First, America is a caste system. One that uses the social construct of race to define the hierarchy and racism as the vehicle to maintain it. The fingerprints of the caste system can be found on most economic, political and social interactions in the United States since its inception. And to this day, we see the unjust residuals of those interactions. As a result, DEI initiatives have never been more important.
Second, there are several emotionally-charged terms used in opposition to DEI. They often reflect grievance, misinformation and fear. If responses to DEI advocacy include any one of the following terms: indoctrination, woke set of ideology, cancel culture, critical race theory, divisive, shame or guilt, then people don’t understand DEI. These terms are deployed in response to misinformation and misunderstanding of its definition, grievance over changing demographics in America,and fear that education may lead to disruption of the aforementioned caste system.
Third, in order to fully understand the inequalities and inequities of today, we must study and confront America’s history. As the author Carter Goodwin Woodson stated, “To point out merely the defects as they appear today will be of little benefit to the present and future generations. These things must be viewed in their historic setting.” It is going to require some deep and potentially uncomfortable conversations about our (America’s) history and how systemic racism has contributed to the current challenges. This is imperative for true progress and equality.
Finally, DEI work is hard and potentially uncomfortable for some. Grievance, misinformation and fear must be countered with goodwill, education and hope. The struggle for a more just and equitable system will not be easy, but nothing worth having ever is.
Dorian L. Beasley, Carmel