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Interact associates take deep dive into equity, diversity and inclusion

Sep 13, 2016

Interact associates assessed how “–isms” such as racism, sexism and ageism can affect their experiences of privilege and oppression.

As part of our ongoing efforts to develop an equity lens for our work, Interact associates recently delved into equity, diversity and inclusion during a workshop presented by CommonHealth ACTION. The nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., works to achieve perspective transformation, which is “learning something that changes the way you see the world and then taking action based on that information to create change.”

Over two days, we were immersed in discussions and activities that challenged us to think differently. Laws going back centuries were examined one by one. This laid bare how society used those laws to maintain power for one group at the expense of others. We considered “the -isms” – racism, sexism, ageism, classism and others – then assessed how they can work together to oppress us or afford us privilege. And the training reinforced that equality does not equal equity. Some people need more help than others to have a fair chance to reach their full potential.

Associates separated themselves by race and age to discuss the intersectionality of privilege and oppression.

Here are some more impressions from Interact associates about the training:

  • Implementing equity in an organization means so much more than including the word in a mission or value statement; it involves thoughtfulness and a lot of hard work.
  • Experiencing privilege is like walking UP an UP escalator – you have help to get there quickly and even if you stop, something carries you to the top. Experiencing oppression is like walking UP a DOWN escalator – you have to work twice as hard to overcome obstacles and if you stop you go all the way back down to the bottom.
  • Knowing the history of how legal policies have been used to oppress people and how that still permeates today’s society was really powerful. Also getting to know personal stories from colleagues helped to give a better perspective of why people feel the way they do.
  • The need to provide some communities more because of the historical disparities is clear.
  • Equity isn’t something you learn and check off a box, it’s something you keep learning and practicing.
  • When making program or funding decisions, taking the time to evaluate the allocation of benefits and burdens is imperative when working through an equity lens.

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