Mead began that portion of the presentation with examples of how assumptions of race and pervasive systems of racism can and have shifted structures of power for centuries. Mead presented examples from a number of areas, including banking and journalism, to show how systemic racism can play out to ‘extraordinary disadvantage’ of many groups in society, and to an unearned privilege for white people that is so pervasive it often goes unseen by those who benefit from it.
“A majority of those of us who are white, do not identify ourselves as a racialized group. In other words, we don't really identify ourselves as white," Mead noted. “And we don't understand our unearned advantage or privilege and social rank.”
Picking up from there, Hill highlighted the important distinction between talking about racial equity versus diversity, equity and inclusion.
Racial equity, she noted, “talks about the social construction racial categories that we have, that have created really profound social, economic and cultural distinctions and divisions... and that result of differential treatment, in terms of health, housing, and every arena that you can think about.”
DEI, on the other hand, “does not center race, but focuses on a range of social categories, class, gender identities, sexual identity, language differences, citizenship status… and it does not explicitly incorporate or address power issues and dynamics,” according to Hill.
Understanding the critical differences there, Hill said, is a critical piece for organizations seeking to find a common language around issues of race and equity, with an understanding that that language may evolve over time. She noted that some scholars and leaders on equity are shifting their language from race entirely toward concepts such as belonging and othering.
That discussion provided a backdrop for the next part of the webinar, focusing more directly on the directory itself. Mead and Hill discussed the rationale for the creation of the directory, and the thoughts behind the information included. That was then followed by a discussion of how to use the directory itself to find the consultants and partners that would be most effective for a specific nonprofit’s needs.
Among the most critical tools in hiring a racial equity consultant, Hill noted, actually comes from the nonprofit itself – an understanding of where the organization stands around racial equity or DEI, and a sense of where the organization wants to go. She laid out a thorough series of questions that would both help the nonprofit understand its current status and goals and help narrow the kind of consulting that might have the greatest benefit.
Both Mead and Hill provided examples of the kinds of questions organizations might want to ask consultants as part of the hiring process, and then opened the floor to address some of the dozens of questions from the online audience.
The second edition of the Racial Equity Capacity Builders Directory can be downloaded directly from the Social Justice Ecology page of TBF.org, or by searching for it on the site.