While the responsibility to improve the culture should not belong to those who are being oppressed, they have valuable insight, information, and ideas that we should not ignore. As an employer or faculty member, try and have an open door policy. Let your employees and students…
This highlighted line in particular thoroughly stood out for me. The reason is it’s a sad, empirical fact of human history that changing cultural bias by those being oppressed is more than a responsibility everyone bears. Indeed, if those being oppressed begin it, nobody listens and at first, it brings a world of pain.
People have died for those sorts of struggle in general society. The Suffragettes were ridiculed for decades before winning the right for women to vote. It was an exercise that took 53 years just to start to have an effect and took 10 more years to complete its culture change. All this atop the prominent death of Emiline Pankhurst, over 1,000 imprisonments of women and the force feeding of hunger strikers which, like today was used as political capital against a “Liberal Government”.
US civil rights campaigners fought from 1865 to 1975 to gain equality in legislature and ethnic minorities and are arguably still fighting to gain general, widespread recognition as equal members of society or even equality of humanity.
All of these movements started through people adversely affected by a distinct and fundamental lack of equanimity in society and culture. Women in tech is another such struggle and yet again, we fail to recognise the role we all have to play in tackling it, whilst paradoxically also living with the premise that we are not the [in]human beings we once were, as if we were or are somehow immune to those same effects, without that much change in the way we communicate or act. If you do the same as you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always got.
Discrimination is Discrimination, FULL STOP!
What I like about Aldyn’s article in particular is that at no point is explicit, positive discrimination touted as a solution. Indeed, exactly the opposite is exclaimed. Whilst hearts can be in the right place, and that’s more right than those with a conscious or unconscious negative prejudice, positive discrimination enforces differences, it does not underscore the value of diversity. It also chronically fails to address the very problem it sets out to tackle, precisely as Aldyn states.
We can’t get away from needing to highlight, enlighten and communicate problems. What we do have to reject though, is the notion that it is solely the responsibility of victims to fights through the very system which oppresses them and is stacked against them to achieve equality. It is everyone’s responsibility, period!
Yet as we have seen from Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, both of which campaigned off the back of the “working vote” by toting and promoting segregation and the deliberate categorisation of underclass of characteristics, such movement for change have their work cut out for the foreseeable future! If we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat them.