BOARD CHAIR MESSAGE: DIVERSITY, EQUITY, & INCLUSION (DEI) AND CURRENT EVENTS
Hi AORE Community,
I don’t know where to start so I’m just going to start. I’m a white person living in U.S. America, and I have and continue to benefit from historical systems that oppress people of color in our country. I have the privilege of not saying something when conversations or actions create discomfort. I have the privilege of not having to think about how my skin color impacts my ability to engage with law enforcement, to go shopping, to spend time walking in my neighborhood.
I’m struggling to write this email because it requires me to acknowledge that I engage in racism. No—let me back that up. It requires me to acknowledge that I am racist. I typed that earlier than then deleted it because it felt uncomfortable. But it’s true. I’m racist because I have been programmed, since birth, to have racist thoughts and assumptions, to do nothing against practices and policies that uphold racial inequity.
To erase these thoughts, actions, and behaviors will be a lifelong and incomplete effort. I am scared of screwing up and doing and saying the wrong things. And I’ll do and say the wrong things, and then have to remind myself and be reminded by others that it’s not about me or my feelings. I shouldn’t strive for external validation or acknowledgement. I should shut up and listen to my friends and colleagues of color to learn about their experiences. To learn how I can be an accomplice in their efforts to achieve equitable treatment.
To that end, I want to call out this AORE community and myself—DO SOMETHING. We need to continue to explore (or start exploring) our implicit biases, call
them out, and work on correcting them.
Name the injustices you see and experience around you. Call them out. Hold yourself and others accountable. Hold this community accountable. Hold me accountable.
Black Lives Matter. Reach out—I’m here and I want to listen and learn.