The New England Archivist’s Communications Committee (endearingly referred to as CommComm!) is releasing the announcement of my appointment as NEA’s Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator today. Since I listed my blog as one way to find me on the ‘net, I anticipate some of you are first-time readers.
This is an eclectic, personal space I’ve been running since 2007 with some slight variation. If you are interested, there are pages where you can found out more about who I am in the world, what I do professionally, and things I like to research and write about.
A few words about these big words, Inclusion and Diversity, and what I hope to do with them during the next three years. Since I stuck my hand in the air to volunteer for this work, I’ve been thinking about what my guiding principles will be. Here are my initial thoughts in bullet-point form:
- Being inclusive is an ongoing process. No matter who participates in NEA we can and should always be looking outward asking, “Who needs to be welcomed to this table; whose voices need to be heard?” Throughout my three-year term, I will looking beyond my tenure and asking how I can lay fertile ground for the IDCs who come after me.
- I will be doing a lot of active listening. My embodied experience is in some ways privileged, some ways marginalized. Like most of you, I shift position from margin to center to margin again, depending on a constellation of factors. I want to know what constellation of factors shape your experience of NEA. And particularly if you feel alienated by NEA, I want to hear what would make NEA a more relevant, inclusive space.
- We cannot understand or increase inclusion and diversity without understanding and working against structural inequality and the way it privileges some voices while erasing or marginalizing, discounting others. I will therefore insist on centering social justice and equity in my efforts.
- Actions speak louder than words. I have heard a lot of back channel frustration with the perception that NEA doesn’t know what it means by “diversity.” My suspicion is that this perception has less to do with how the organization defines the word or concept and more to do with how the organization acts on — or doesn’t — its stated commitment. My goal is to get us acting.
That’s it. I see the labor of diversity and inclusion as an ongoing process that involves a lot of active listening to the alienated, that asserts the centrality of combating structural inequality, and prioritizes constructive action over policy statements.
I hope this sounds like a good starting place to y’all — and I trust if it doesn’t, you’ll be willing to tell me so! If you’d like to sit down and discuss things over (virtual or actual) coffee, you know where to find me.