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8. The Death of DEI
  • Writer's pictureAntonio Da Veiga Rocha

Belonging and Inclusion is Not Needed.

Did we get your attention with our title? Just hold on and read our reasoning. We here at KinSite take great pride in the identity work we do and the complexity that it holds. It's a deeply studied and historical field with our understandings of it still only scratching the surface. From the most natural universal positioning of who we are as a species, to our individual character-based understandings of what makes the individual us ‘Us’, the landscape of this study is such a polaristic practice that we strongly believe much more work needs to be done. The diversity inherent in Identity makeup inevitably houses much of its work under the umbrella of diversity work (the study, understanding, and practice of differences and their importance).

'Belonging' & 'Inclusion', Diversions?

Not too long ago I was asked to do a presentation on identity. The site was an secondary school that wanted to amplify the work they had been carrying out on the subject, what they had termed (like many others) Belonging. After our presentation, during the comments and questions session, I recall explaining further a point we had made during the talk. We said that though belonging has become a familiar word to practitioners of Diversity and Equity work, many of the ways it is currently practiced misses the underlying cultural studies of identity and identity formation. These titles tend to replace the harder task of understanding Identity and its complexity, most often becoming superficial practices for what is essentially identity awareness and identity acceptance. It is in essence the pairing of identity work with these titles that we disagree with and find distracting and not needed (hence the title of this post!).

'Inclusion' and 'Belonging', a resurfacing of Tolerance!

If you have read some of our previous posts, you will likely have heard our position on these terms before. We often ask new colleagues in the field, those that use the terms as titles, why they use such terms? When they explain, we continue to ask the same question: don’t those needs and explanations you mention fit under the two terms Diversity and Equity? Are not the goals and objectives you are trying to achieve with those terms a result of Equity and Diversity practices done well? What we have deduced from it all is that in most cases they are used to passively invite (mostly white, cis gendered) bodies into Diversity and Equity policies and practices. They often act as diversions to the inherent complexity in identity knowledge and identity acceptance by superficially distracting the social space with contemporary gestures of respectability (which is really a resurfacing of practices of tolerance: how does one tolerate the Other as one moves through one's day.).

Stick to Doing Diversity and Equity Work, Well.

For us here at KinSite Inclusion and Belonging are automatic byproducts of Diversity and Equity practice done well, not their own practices. That is why we focus on strengthening the social productive spaces by clarifying and promoting the need for D&E primarily. I mention this because diversifying a space, and making sure that it is just, needs identity awareness as seen through the lens of diversity understanding, both on the individual level and the social interactive level. It requires us to understand and accept that our very make-up is a diverse process that is socially impacted, and that our sustainability as beings, again, both individually and socially, is guided by our social applications of equity. These conbinations of actions is what will ultimately create Inclusive and long lasting spaces of Belonging.


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