by Darline Mabins,
UniteNews Contributing Writer
Springfield, MO—According to the Oxford Dictionary, there are two definitions of the word diversity. The first is: “the state of being diverse; variety”. The second is: “the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.”…hmm. So, if I interpret the definition correctly, wouldn’t the definition of diversity include ALL of us? If that’s the case, why does this word strike so much fear and anger in the hearts of so many people?
With just four weeks left in the 2023 legislative session, there are many controversial bills that are being reviewed and up for votes. The budget approval is one that many universities, schools, and nonprofit organizations are watching. There was a published article in the Missouri Times, where 150 Missouri Organizations signed and sent in a letter in opposition to the DEI language added to the Budget.
The language reads:
No funds shall be expended for staffing, vendors, consultants, or programs associated with “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion,” or “Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging,” or any other initiative which similarly promotes: 1) the preferential treatment of any individual or group of individuals based upon race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, national origin, or ancestry; 2) the concept that disparities are necessarily tied to oppression; 3) collective guilt ideologies; 4) intersectional or divisive identity activism; or, 5) the limiting of freedom of conscience, thought, or speech. This does not prohibit the department from following federal and state employment and anti-discrimination laws.
If approved, this would be extremely problematic for many organizations that work to make our state and local community more equitable. Again, why ban Diversity? Why restrict Inclusion and Belonging? As human beings, we by definition are, in this world looking for a tribe, family, group, or organization to belong to. Acceptance and respect the things we strive for. So why ban diversity?
Outside of the dictionary definition, and in the simplest term, Diversity is all of us. It’s every man, woman, and child that makes up our community. Diversity is not just one ethnic group or race. It’s not a few genders or religions. It isn’t a particular socioeconomic group. Every one of us makes up the diverse landscape that is our community. Our history, lived experiences, families, age, abilities/disabilities, culture and so much more, make us diverse. Shrinking the meaning of this word is a disservice to us all.
Stay connected and stay informed in our local, state, and federal proceedings. The future of our community, businesses, and educational organizations depend on it. Remember, “We the People” is the Preamble of our Constitution. We must take part in the discussion and decisions “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty…”