We always talk about the “ABCs” of this and that, but what about the advanced practice? With so much of the DEI space being littered with performative, check-the-box maneuvers, I don’t personally even like to use the term.
It’s not about hiring numbers, but how people feel and live together in spaces, and it’s not just about agency and psychological safety for BIPOC people, women, LGBTQIA+ or other marginalized and discriminated-against folks (though that’s a great start!) it’s about how to ensure that we are all advancing towards a world that has less racism, less colonialism, less Islamophobia, less exploitation, less extraction, less toxic masculinity, less useless white guilt, more mutuality, more of the Divine Feminine, more Earth-centered ways of being and knowing, more respect, more love, more authenticity.
That is a heck of a lot to carry, but this feels like the work of this mid-21st century. And I believe that it starts by taking a fresh, more expansive, honest, creative, and embodying vision of “DEI work” than most of what we have come to accept.
The XYZ of DEI is a project/platform I’m developing that embodies my personal ‘ikigai’ (the overlapping Venn Diagram of Brave Sis, my career work for global strategic advisory firm Camber Collective, and my own life and lived experience as a mentor and advisor.
This approach is the convergence of four rivers:
- Data, Metrics, and Facts
- Explorations and Ways of Work, and field perspectives I gain and learn through the work of both Brave Sis Project and my role as Director of Impact and Equity at Camber Collective
- Lived Experience (see bio)
- Aspirations, Motivations, and Beliefs, based in Manifesting the Change we need to see
If you had only 45 minutes, here are the Top Twelve Considerations:
- Anti-Colonialist – colonialism going back to the Crusades is the reason for all the “isms”; dominance, religious conquest, slavery, Jim Crow, apartheid, etc.
- Belonging – Seen, Supported, Connected, Galvanized
- Blind Spotting – constantly scanning for your implicit/explicit bias, societal flaws, use of language, etc.
- Calling In – not calling out
- Decentering the Default Narrative – de-centering cishet Western whiteness as the holder of all power and importance – getting past 1990s “I don’t see color/we have solved racism” performance
- Guilt-phobic – getting out of “I’m a bad white person,” which just continues to center whiteness and doesn’t advance any change; it’s exhausting and performative to many BIPOC*
- Intersectional & Inclusive – on the Great Wheel of Privilege, there exist many types of “privilege,” we all have some. Considering these with honesty, humility, and openness is a major factor in how we move past our blind spots and implicit bias
- Intimate – nothing changes if you don’t sit with yourself, honestly reflecting, committing and changing (preferably using the Brave Sis Journey Journal!)
- Non-Binary – the solutions are not yes/no, black/white, there is no purity test; we all live and function in some degree of gray. Life is always yes and no.
- Power-full – a deep and honest analysis of power, the six different types of power, and mapping the power brokers at all levels. Exploring the differences between systemic/organizational power and influence/on the ground/community power as the theorist Lily Zheng explains, is crucial
- Storytelling, Whose? – This is Brave Sis Project, which exists to uplift and celebrate those whose stories are valiant and erased, due to -isms, devaluing, and non-representation
- Systemic – all of this is implied to change not just one situation, project, or group but to demonstrate up and out, and influence/shift the systems that we live in and don’t even recognize.
We can touch the surface of these 12 facets in an exploratory way in 45 minutes to an hour. If you had three hours, we would look at 20 or 30 of these. If you had a weekend for a retreat experience, encompassing dialogue, journaling (naturally), creative activities, leisure bonding and fun, we'd look at all 52.
I will share the entire list to get your juices flowing. If you are an IP thief, I doubt you'd bring the perspective to it that I will and do, so don’t try this on your own :)
Watch this space as I roll out mini-bites over the weeks and months to come.
- Blind Spotting
- Calling In
- Collaboration & Community
- Customized (Contextually localized)
- De-centering the Default Narrative
- Inspirational & Influential
- Intersectional & Inclusive
- Kinfolk/Skinfolk Tokenism
- Living History & Memory
- Sisterhood Solidarity
- Storytelling, Whose?
- Troubling the Status Quo
- White Saviordom