Letter: Diversity opponents speaking in code

Posted 2/11/21

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) was probably doomed well before the Jan. 20 Town Council meeting. Bristol County Concerned Citizens (BCCC) and their supporters did an effective …

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Letter: Diversity opponents speaking in code

Posted

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) was probably doomed well before the Jan. 20 Town Council meeting. Bristol County Concerned Citizens (BCCC) and their supporters did an effective job of undermining its chances, in no small part due to the insistence of prominent members that “diversity,” “equity” and “inclusion” are terms with “coded meanings.”

The Feb. 4 letter to the editor, “Bristol should follow its own path,” by Mike Byrnes, gives insight into this “code.” By reading the DEIC proposal and looking up standard diversity, equity and inclusion terms, one sees the code doesn’t break the way BCCC thinks it does.

“Diversity can mean anything.” Diversity values the range of human differences. The fine print of diversity may vary from organization to organization, but the DEIC proposal allows a reader to easily infer diversity as encompassing “race, ethnicity, national origin, religious beliefs, gender identity, disability, age, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.” This is in plain sight.

“Diversity ignores diversity of thought.” Reason shows that, in fact, the opposite is true. Each individual’s habits of thought are the product of how they have received and processed the inputs and experiences of their own lives. No two are the same, and the further people get from their own “group,” the greater the differences. Rejecting diversity intentionally rejects diversity of thought.

“Diversity leads to quotas.” Nothing in the DEIC proposal mentioned enforcing quotas. The proposal would have allowed elected officials to ask the DEIC for assistance in exploring quotas, but any result would have been advisory. Implying the DEIC was a “back door” into dictating quotas to our duly elected officials ignores that fact. These are the same duly elected officials that BCCC and others insisted on trusting to do the right thing. Would those officials become suddenly untrustworthy if a DEIC existed?

Equity “ignores talent, hard work, and fairness,” and “assumes bigotry.” Equity is not a participation trophy; it does not seek the same outcome for all. Literature on equity shows that equity seeks to create fair access to resources and opportunity to all. After that, it’s up to their “hard work” and “talent” to determine success.

Creating equity is about removing intentional and unintentional barriers; the proposed DEIC charge makes no assumptions of widespread bigotry as a source of inequity. To imply that demonizes the motivations of the group that worked so hard to follow the Town Council’s Sept. 30 guidance.

Misinformation aside, there are frankly troubling statements in the Feb. 4 letter that need to be brought to light and “decoded.”

It's hard to see how comparing diversity to a “spice” – something with little to no nutritional value – isn’t demeaning. How exactly do LGBTQ+ people, women of color, people with disabilities, refugees, etc. “spice up our lives” while, as the rest of the sentence states, not “better society”? Furthermore, how is allowing all people a fair opportunity to participate in a society as an equal (inclusion) lowering our standards? This code should be clarified, before people assign a meaning that isn’t there.

Bill Bullard
Bristol

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