The greatest social justice movements teach us that progress isn’t linear, but is rather dynamic. This means that progress doesn’t transpire overnight. It doesn’t transpire instantaneously with one motion or action, but is the product of concerted efforts compounding to create change. This also means that in the midst of fighting for what is right, resistance sometimes hidden in the form of defeat and regression can take place.
In the case of fighting for educational equity, this means that creating schools that honor and celebrate diversity, affirm students’ identity, develop a sense of social and critical consciousness within students, cultivate inclusivity, and provide equitable access and outcomes for all students can often feel nearly impossible. With bans on teaching Black history; book bans that prohibit certain texts that center the histories, perspectives, and lived experiences of marginalized communities; and other unjust and discriminatory practices, educators, parents, and education advocates may wonder if there is any hope for diversity, equity, and inclusion within schools.
The answer is yes. No matter where you and your school are within your DEI efforts, here are two considerations to overlay in contemplating how to deepen your work and ensure it is meaningful, authentic, and taking real–not performative–roots.
Expand your definition of diversity
I define diversity as representation across the board–or in other words, it is a variety of areas of identity or difference. This definition is very important to note, because far too often, the word diversity is used as a synonym for race and ethnicity.