During the past month, I had the honor of participating in the LWVUS national-based learning lab which focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The training was filled with information that could assist local leagues in both training and teaching on social equity in the 21st Century. Each module used practical resources and common-language conversations about everyday racial inequities to think about the ways our league could understand difference and be more inclusive of others. A recurring theme, throughout the training, was that social equity is an intentional practice and it begins with much internal reflection and outward support, to challenge conventional thinking. Similarly, the New York City Youth Civics Initiative (NYCYCI) through coalition building, is challenging members of the Generation Z demographic and using various media platforms, socially relevant and culturally responsive tools to both introduce and maintain a strong and active voter base. In a two-day training, the NYCYCI has shared the ways in which their generation are both committed to being politically involved and protecting their right to vote. Through the lens of social justice and transformation, Petty, Zimmerman and Leach (2017) maintain that we connect to our greater purpose when we are (1) refueling and replenishing, (2) are skilled in the transference of positive energies and (3) create synergy. These characteristics were evident in the panel discussion led by the civics initiative. Through service-learning projects, students of all ethnicities and backgrounds (1) research an issue, (2) craft and action plan, (3) create an execution strategy and (4) reflect on their advocacy efforts. With regards to closing the divide on equity, the generation uses powerful storyboards, journalism and videos to emphasize the necessity of protecting the vote.
DEI in Practice: LWVNYS DEI Taskforce
Love it when a plan comes together! Just as we were initiating the State-wide DEI Task Force, the LWVUS put out a call for applicants for their DEI grant. The most significant component of the grant was not the funding, however… it was the opportunity to go thru a DEI training course. The course continues the efforts of the LWVUS for the past 3 years to assist Leagues as they expand their individual DEI efforts. This training continues the approach which occurs at three basic levels as described in the course introduction:
- Individual – Examines the fact that for this DEI work to succeed, we each need to examine our relationship to DEI, identify our biases, and understand our diverse dimensions and how to relate to the diverse dimensions of those around us;
- Organizational – Examines barriers to equitable and inclusive participation, opportunities to create a culture of collective leadership, and how Leagues can represent the communities they serve;
- Community –This level examines how Leagues can be equitable and helpful partners to our communities and can share our strengths in a way that uplifts underrepresented voices and acknowledges their value in our Democracy.
The course is billed as being designed to help us to establish the framework and mindset needed to apply a DEI lens to what we do as individuals and to what your League undertakes. Check out the submission above by Crystal Joseph, BOD Member/Youth Services Director, for insight on the benefits of the training as applied to one of the league focus areas, youth. Happily, half of our current Task Force members have received this training as of July through the grant, and the grant funds will support a DEI related workshop for all NYS League members and their communities in the upcoming months.
But why wait!? The LWVUS and the course partner, Leaderosity.org, has just made the course available to ALL LEAGUE MEMBERS at no charge for the next 25 days! Thus, we invite you to get a head start on your own knowledge base as you lead your league to function through the application of a DEI lens. Sign up at this direct link to participate and spread the word to interested members in your chapter: https://www.courses.leaderosity.org/courses/the-equity-journey
By: Regina Tillman and Crystal Joseph