The joyful celebration of pluralism through song perks me up when the world gets me down. I started an inclusion song playlist. What should I add?
It’s basically a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other. We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.
Intersectionality is simply about how certain aspects of who you are will increase your access to the good things or your exposure to the bad things in life. Like many other social-justice ideas, it stands because it resonates with people’s lives, but because it resonates with people’s lives, it’s under attack. There’s nothing new about defenders of the status quo criticizing those who are demanding that injustices be addressed. It’s all a crisis over a sense that things might actually have to change for equality to be real.
Self-interrogation is a good place to start. If you see inequality as a “them” problem or “unfortunate other” problem, that is a problem. Being able to attend to not just unfair exclusion but also, frankly, unearned inclusion is part of the equality gambit. We’ve got to be open to looking at all of the ways our systems reproduce these inequalities, and that includes the privileges as well as the harms.
What happens in a world in which white people begin to make dubious claims about how diversity initiatives disadvantage them and take away positions that they are qualified for and entitled to? You have a generation of white men who engage in grievance politics subjecting us all to their rage and their Trump. What happens if these same arguments undergird claims to the presidency on the left? Unfortunately, Sanders’ progressivism does not keep him or his supporters from making the same kinds of problematic merit-based claims to presidential employment that white men in every other industry make.
These voters also choose never to think about the ways that merit-based arguments of the same sort are deployed by corporate America or the halls of academia to wall women and racial minorities out of access to great jobs and organizational leadership opportunities. Anyone who has ever served on a committee charged with hiring candidates who bring some diversity to a place understands how things go when the white guy who meets all the criteria (because he has had structural access to all the privileges that would help him meet all the criteria) is up against a promising woman or person of color who is very good but falls down in a few categories. Or conversely she’s the best, but the standards as written and understood make hiring her seem like too much of a risk. Hiring committees often struggle with what feels to them like the fundamental unfairness of allowing a candidate’s diversity to put them over the top. Many (white) members of these committees see this as a sullying of (a mythic) meritocracy in a way that disadvantages white men. But first, they have to believe that the man in question received all his qualifications on the merits and not because of structural privileges. I expect people on the progressive and radical left, those who claim to understand how intersectionality works, to know better, but they aren’t acting like they do.
The experiences one gains from being marginalized because of racism and sexism offer invaluable perspectives that often make candidates inclined to be more egalitarian and inclusive, precisely because they know intimately what exclusion feels like.
The meritocracy myth and the “lowering the bar” narrative are big barriers to inclusion. This study frames the struggle as “merit vs. the diversity imperative” and identifies it as one of four primary organizational challenges to D&I.
if you are not budgeting for events to be accessible, what are you prioritizing over the inclusion of everyone?
If you really care about diversity, don’t let unpaid, unrewarded labor be piled on marginalized people – your people.
Source: Whose job is it to D&I anyway?
Don’t make underrepresented people work a second job as diversity champions. – Natasha Litt, Data Engineer at New Relic
Underrepresented employees already have to overcome discriminatory barriers in their careers; they shouldn’t be expected to volunteer their time to help their companies do the same.
The vast majority of this activism is being led by underrepresented people – some working at tech companies, some starting their own, and many working outside of traditional structures as independent activists or as part of new collectives. In addition to managing the daily toll of existing as a marginalized person in technology, they are also taking on the challenging, taxing and often thankless work of culture change… and it doesn’t come without a cost. Diversity in tech work is having a profound, negative impact on advocates’ happiness, mental and physical health and work/life balance, as well as their safety, relationships, careers and security.
Activist burnout is something more widely documented in other social justice communities, yet less understood and discussed in tech itself. In fact, it remains a highly taboo topic: in our recent informal survey on tech activism and burnout, we found that the vast majority of respondents chose to remain anonymous. Still, their responses made one thing absolutely clear: burnout is one of the #1 challenges facing the movement.
Change also means that the ideas and concerns of all people need to be a part of the design phase and the auditing of systems, even if this slows down the process. We need to bring back and reinvigorate the profession of quality assurance so that products are not launched without systematic consideration of the harms that might occur. Call it security or call it safety, but it requires focusing on inclusion. After all, whether we like it or not, the tech industry is now in the business of global governance.
Move fast and break things” is an abomination if your goal is to create a healthy society.
I updated “Neurodiversity in the Classroom” with a selection on sensory overwhelm in school environments from “Inclusive Education for Autistic Children: Helping Children and Young People to Learn and Flourish in the Classroom”.
One of the more encouraging developments in the autism field over the last decade or so has been a growing awareness of the significance of sensory issues. Sensory sensitivities are included in the DSM-5 as part part of the diagnostic criteria for autism, and in teacher training materials, such as those provided by the AET. They are also highlighted in campaigns by the National Autistic Society (NAS), for example. But despite these signs of increased understanding, I’m not convinced that in our schools there is a sufficiently nuanced appreciation of this multi-faceted phenomenon, which potentially influences a whole range of physical and perceptual processes (Bogdashina 2016). Indeed, the school environment can present autistic children with a multi-sensory onslaught in terms of sounds, smells, textures and visual impacts that constitutes both a distraction and a source of discomfort (Ashburner, Ziviani and Rodger 2008; Caldwell 2008). There was also clear evidence from my own study that sensory issues, and noise in particular, can be highly exclusionary factors for autistic children in schools.
I updated “Neurodiversity in the Classroom” with a selection from “Inclusive Education for Autistic Children: Helping Children and Young People to Learn and Flourish in the Classroom”.
understanding the perspectives and experiences of autistic children and adults in particular was essential. Time and again I found that issues aired say, by teachers, would be completely reframed when the autistic adults discussed the same points.
I also added headings to break up the length and removed some dead links and embeds.
Time and again I found that issues aired say, by teachers, would be completely reframed when the autistic adults discussed the same points.
But despite these signs of increased understanding, I’m not convinced that in our schools there is a sufficiently nuanced appreciation of this multi-faceted phenomenon, which potentially influences a whole range of physical and perceptual processes (Bogdashina 2016). Indeed, the school environment can present autistic children with a multi-sensory onslaught in terms of sounds, smells, textures and visual impacts that constitutes both a distraction and a source of discomfort (Ashburner, Ziviani and Rodger 2008; Caldwell 2008). There was also clear evidence from my own study that sensory issues, and noise in particular, can be highly exclusionary factors for autistic children in schools.