Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
What is diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is also known as DEIJ (justice). Diversity can be described as a full spectrum in race, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, age, ability, religion, and political philosophy. For DEI to be effective, there must be social justice.
What does DEIJ mean to you, our community?
It means that while being human, we are inherently diverse. Denying the ability to express our whole selves is inhuman. We have seen it countless times in history. In order to change things, we must acknowledge these ugly histories and allow diversity to flourish through inclusion. We all want an equitable chance at basic human rights and expression in a just manner. Being a part of the Climbers of Color community means being able to exercise your expression of intersectionality.
Not familiar with intersectionality? It will be discussed below.
What is POC? What is BIPOC?
People of color (POC). Let’s take a walk through U.S. history.
First and foremost, in the years of segregation, anyone who was not white or willingly white passing was considered “other.” These “others” were pushed to the margins of society most of the time and forced to use segregated facilities labeled “colored”. Let’s think about that for a minute: in modern American history the spotlight has been shone on the African American society as being the sole recipients of horrible treatment and subject to segregated facilities. While we cannot emphasize enough that these atrocities were specifically inflicted upon the African American and Indigeneous First Peoples in the forms of slavery, genocide, and segregation; segregation was routinely put upon everyone not white. Unfortunately in this case, we as BIPOC have partially defined ourselves through enslavement and segregation of our ancestors in this country. We are directly connected to the intertwined history and continue to use the word “color”, but in a different way.
The phrase “colored” is an outdated word that was originally invented by the same people upholding the past segregated society. To uphold our dignity and reclaim our power, we now use People of Color. The predominant word being People because there are many arguments that attempt to justify that dated and humiliating segregation with POC being less than human. We are all human and have subtle differences as a species. In fact, if you were to hand your DNA to a geneticist and ask them to tell you their “race”, they would not be able to tell you. Segregation and methodical treatment of people of different colored skin is completely a constructed human notion.
And BIPOC? Looking at history again before and after segregation, there are a number of times POC groups have been targeted for hate crimes and denial of immigration. Their stories and struggles are valid. With that being said, no other two groups have been so discriminated against, hunted, vilified, and killed on this land as much as African Americans (Black Americans) and Indigeneous Peoples. The discrimination has never stopped and continues today.
BIPOC (Black, Indigeneous, People of Color) does not set any groups above the other. However, we do seek to call special attention to the inexcusable atrocities committed against Black and Indigenous groups in US history. All POC community struggles are very real but we need to have extra scrutiny with issues concerning BI communities.
What is intersectionality?
Within the realm of BIPOC there are an infinite number of cultures, identities, etc that we are blessed to witness. BIPOC can be part of multiple cultures and communities. Intersectionality speaks to the willingness of taking into account all aspects of how these, well, intersect with one another.
Two examples (which are small snippets of very large issues):
Feminism has not been intersectional. When the feminist movement happened in the U.S., it was only caucasian women who were uplifted. BIPOC women, although having invested their souls into the cause with much sacrifice, were still without equal rights for many years after. And it is still not equal today.
Another example involves the LGBTQIA+ community. LGTBQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Genderqueer, Queer, Intersexed, Agender, Asexual, and all others not covered in the preceding letters. A large acronym, yes, but like a wide range of cultural identities, there are an infinite number of gender and sexual identities also intertwined as BIPOC.
The complication comes, again, with LGBTQIA+ BIPOC not having the same treatment of equality by the government and society. Imagine, if you are not already, being BIPOC and having to deal with racism and also being LGBTQIA+ and having to deal with homophobia from one person to the next or even within the same interaction. In some cases, white and white presenting LGTBQIA+ members can be victims of gentrification or the vehicles of it. For some BIPOC in this community, even the pride flag is a sign of lacking inclusiveness even though, like the femisist movement, BIPOC have been leaders instrumental in change. As a related and important note, LGBTQIA+ people were a respected part of many cultures.
At Climbers of Color, we find all intersectional views important and integral to our operation.
These are complicated and detailed situations we all face by being human and all these pieces make us up into what we truly are: diverse and beautifully intersectional.
What is the difference between racism, “not racist,” and “anti-racist”?
Racism is the collection of ideas, actions and policies that support a social hierarchy based on race. Race refers to the socially-constructed non-biological differences between humans that was developed by slave traders to justify the preferential treatment of white Europeans and the systematic discrimination of people of color. But today, many of us conflate racism and colorism, or the discrimination of individuals based on skin color. We must remember that colorism is a product of racism. For example, in US history, racism manifested as colorism through the preferential treatment of light-skinned slaves as compared to darker-skinned slaves.
We hear a lot “Well, I have color to my skin. I tan.” This is a way of downplaying the serious issues and life threatening challenges black and brown people face. It is also a way of gaslighting the actual reality and history of racism. Gaslighting is manipulation by psychological means making one question their own sanity. It is a means of denying oppression and not a new tactic. We must recognize it when we see it.By buying into these ridiculous and non-scientific based stereotypes of people, people remain racist outwardly.
The concept of being “not racist” is a bit trickier. Here in the Pacific Northwest it can be harder to detect. People are “liberal” here, however, they will not necessarily stand against racism. They will shrug it off or tell you that you are “too sensitive”. Let’s be clear: not racist is parallelling racism. If someone is not actively confronting and demanding justice for even the slightest joke, they are complicit in upholding ridiculous and non-scientific based stereotypes of BIPOC that are at the very heart of racism.
Anti racist. Now we are talking! That’s right: taking a stand against racism. Actively challenging people to criticize and confront that inappropriate joke, by acting as a responsible ally, or by donating to organizations that fight against racism (such as Climbers of Color hint hint). This process can be scary so as a BIPOC, your personal safety always comes first. Or maybe that particular day you were not feeling up to the challenge due to health, etc. It’s ok, give yourself some slack but do your absolute best where and when possible. Having the right tools to fight racism is important but taking care of yourself comes first. White folks and allies it’s different for you, we are going to have a talk later down the page.
What is an ally? Is that the same as white people?
Please Note: Although Climbers of Color values and encourages allyship, we are not a free educational resource for allies. Education must be sought elsewhere: BIPOC take center stage here.
An ally is not necessarily a white person. A white person is not necessarily an ally.
Most white ancestors have taken part in the oppression and gaslighting of numerous cultures around the world. We are not asking white people to apologize for their ancestors. We are asking them to dismantle the system of oppression that they built which they maintain and benefit from. And it starts with self-education. Of course white people usually do not question the system they are a part of because it is built for them. Even if their ancestors did not partake in the racist practices, they do benefit from the system today and have for generations. Someone whose life is ruled by the system (BIPOC) questions it all the time because we are not beneficiaries of it the majority of the time.
A white ally acknowledges the limits of their knowledge about other people’s experiences but doesn't use that as a reason not to think or act. A white ally does not remain silent but confronts racism as it comes up daily (anti-racist). They also seek to deconstruct it institutionally and live in a way that challenges systemic oppression, at the risk of experiencing negative attention. Being a white ally entails building relationships with both BIPOC but also with white people, in order to challenge them in their thinking about race. White allies don’t have it all figured out, but are committed to non-complacency.
A friend or partner of a BIPOC does not automatically make them an ally. A true ally will respect the BIPOC space and observe the group without having to be asked or spoken to about stepping back. This again goes back to the ruling system: it makes no space or allowance for BIPOC people to ban together for productivity, community, or empowerment. BIPOC groups and especially BIPOC womxn and femme groups are seen as less competent. Why is that? Stereotypes from the system to keep those in power right where they are. But we are powerful, and we know this.
Allies may want to help and sometimes they do help. But, as BIPOC groups are viewed as less capable at leadership or successful collaborative community initiatives, people return to the white savior. White saviorism is a white person or entity going into BIPOC spaces and telling them what is best for them. As BIPOC, we are capable on our own to do great things and no one knows what is best for our own community like we do.
Plainly put: for Climbers of Color, allies can help us by donating money.
So, the struggle is the only thing binding us together as BIPOC?
Struggle and discrimination are absolutely a big part of the bonding of BIPOC but not all of it. Having bold spaces to express situations and past occurances is a powerful bonding experience. BUT, it is not the strongest thing that binds us together. The strongest item that bonds us together is the desire for an inclusive and equitable society. By coming together we are agreeing to put in the work, with ourselves with society, to make it happen. And then we can enjoy some climbing! Stronger together.
Written by Crystal Rose H.
Edited by Mariko Ching