Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.

LWVNYS DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) Task Force

LWVNYS DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) Task Force

Regina Tillman, rmt371@live.com and Crystal Joseph, campus@lwvnyc.org, Co-Chairs

A small but committed group of Leaguers from across NYS participated in the second round of workshops by Debby Irving, conducted on October 19th. The info was intense and engaging for the 80 or so that participated for 4 hours. And thus far, 80% of those completing the survey give a “strongly agree” rating to the statement that they would recommend Ms. Irving to other Leagues. Exit Survey responses also indicated that 80% of respondents felt more able to explain “white privilege” and 70% felt that they were more able to have difficult conversations about race.

Hopefully some will have been in attendance at our virtual DEI Drop-In Session that occurred on October 26th. Why?! Conversation helps to clarify and solidify the learning process. People can feel deeply shaken with the information that is conveyed. According to Debby Irving, “acknowledging and supporting that process is essential to the development and ability to stay engaged by [attendees].” We do wish for continued engagement and will establish DEI Drop-Ins as a routine part of the educational process on this topic.

On behalf of the DEI Task Force, our thanks for the support from LWVNYS and local Leagues to  conduct these workshops! And to you – as League members – for your attendance since the first virtual DEI workshop in June 2021. We also acknowledge the follow-up engagements that have already begun to occur because of your heightened awareness and motivation to develop our organization into one which is more inclusive, more equitable, more multi-cultural and anti-racist.

From the 6 hours of workshops from August 17th and October 19th, plus any participation in the 21-day Racial Equity Challenge, we learned a lot of American history. As stated on Debby Irving’s website page, we gave “a glimpse of what people don’t know they don’t know: many white people don’t understand that the concept of race was invented as a political tool; most white people have bought into ideas about white people being smarter, harder working, and less criminal without understanding the history of that messaging; most white people don’t know that when their family got the GI Bill, Black and brown families didn’t; most white people remain completely unaware of what they were not taught in school or in mainstream media about the history of race in the US.”

And as you continue to learn the unadulterated history, there are people being set up to attack local school board officials for standing behind the need to also teach our children the complete history of America. DEI is getting rolled up in some communities with CRT (Critical Race Theory), claiming it all to be divisive and, therefore, inappropriate to support let alone to teach.

We at the State League have taken note and will be providing you with information to help you “set the record straight”. While good people must speak up against this misinterpretation, first you must have “the facts”. In the meantime, please know – as starting point – that CRT has nothing to do with public school curriculum. In fact, I hope that you will be able to take 3 minutes to watch this video clip describing what CRT is and is not: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gdxrkwpPKc

And I have included a video clip of less than 7 minutes interviewing Kimberlé Crenshaw, who was among the legal scholars who developed the theory, helping us to understand the true meaning of Critical Race Theory and how it became a political flashpoint in schools and beyond: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jih7ZbB8OLE More to come.