The Diversity Declaration

Government of the People, by the People, and for the People

Filtering by Tag: Diversity

Time for an Anti-Racist Political Party

The attacks on politicians of color and women in office are getting worse, and we are fed up and ready to push for change. Recent weeks have seen chants of “Send her back,” attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar. Dog whistle comments about Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district in Baltimore - to distract from the Congressman’s legitimate outrage about the treatment of migrants in detention. And lest we forget how closely linked racism and misogyny are, the spectacle of Iowa Rep. Steve King defending violence against women. We need to start putting trigger warnings on Republicans.

And it’s not just President Trump. A few days ago the National Republican Congressional Committee jumped into the race to the racist bottom by attacking Rep. Lucy McBath, a woman who got into politics in the first place to push for gun control. This she-ro lost her own son to structural violence as he was shot by a white man for ‘playing his music too loud.’ And what did the NRCC choose to attack her for? For her strong reaction to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, shootings that were unmistakably motivated by racism and misogyny. Apparently the shooters can count on the NRCC.

Two years ago white supremacists killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, VA. Last year they killed Jewish worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Last week they assaulted families shopping in El Paso, TX. And white supremacist terrorists have killed so many in between these highly publicized attacks.

We get that the hatred and violence are nothing new in this country. We will not end gun violence until we end racism, misogyny, and homophobia. This means our government at all levels, and our political parties, have to stop enabling structural racism, sexism, and other forms of systemic oppression.

Our goal is to change the political landscape, and our starting point is our elected officials. We are the majority. Politics and policy don’t have to pit one group against another. There are many examples of policies that work for ALL of us.

To get there we need to dismantle the systems that reinforce race, class, and gender oppression. We need to embrace politics that goes beyond the absence of overt discrimination and is affirmatively anti-racist and anti-oppression.

We reject the Republican party as it is today. It has become an open, unapologetic enabler of white supremacy.

We do not automatically embrace the Democratic party. While they may not be blowing dog whistles, they have yet to embrace the systemic reform that we need.

This is our call to action today. We ask our candidates for office and our current elected officials to recognize and correct the longstanding legacies of discrimination, in their own actions and in public policy.

There is reason to hope for change, at least among the Democrats. We see the DCCC staff walkout as a positive sign- these staffers were willing to take action, and we will have their backs. We support the statement by our partner, Inclusv, pointing out a way forward for the DCCC. We also support the recent initiative of the Maryland Democratic Party to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion. These are good first steps and they can be adopted by Party branches at state and local levels.

We are the majority and while we are not all the same, we are willing to work together. It’s time for the Democrats to work with us, too.

Motivation Monday: Open Letter on Equity in National Security & Upcoming Meeting

We have joined forces with the Open Society Policy Center by signing on to their Open Letter on "Fundamental Equity and Inclusion for U.S. National Security and Global Engagement." Click here to read the letter.

Reminder: our Quarterly Meeting is this Sunday, April 22 from 3pm-5pm at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave. NE, Washington DC 20002. We anticipate a great discussion setting out our work for the coming months.  Please RSVP with an email (info@diversitydeclaration.com) if you have not already.

Urging Our Senators to Commit to Diversity in Hiring

On February 15, we joined about a dozen other organizations signing onto letters sent by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies to Senator Menendez, recently reinstated as Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Cardin, recently appointed Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The letters urge the Senators to:

  1. Apply the Rooney Rule and interview at least one person of color for their staff director and general counsel roles;
  2. Commit to hiring diverse candidates throughout their offices to ensure that the demographics of their offices reflect the demographics of their constituents; and
  3. Commit to hiring at least one person of color for their staff director or general counsel position. 

County Council Candidates Talk About Racial Equity and Immigrant Rights

Montgomery County, Maryland is one of the most diverse counties in the United States.  Yet, the County Council has traditionally represented only a fraction of the county's communities.  Local elections matter and it's important to hold our representatives at ALL levels of government accountable to ALL our communities.  That's why your Diversity Matters team decided to check out yesterday's County Executive Forum on Racial Equity and Immigrant Rights.  This grassroots-hosted event raised questions to an all-white, mostly male panel of candidates that they may not usually have to face.  The excellent moderators asked the panelists tough questions about discrimination in housing and zoning, dealing with distrust between police and communities, and how they would handle the Trump administration's aggressive ICE raids and targeting of undocumented immigrants.  We are not endorsing any particular candidate in this county election, but were glad to see candidates pushed to consider what more they could do to reach out and engage the very large immigrant communities that have not had a strong voice in local government.  Candidates were also asked how historical wrongs against the African American community, who have literally had their graves paved over by developers, could be addressed.
 

We felt all of the candidates could do much more to address these questions but hats off to the event organizers for making sure we were at the table.  We encourage all our supporters to take a look at upcoming local events in your community, and bring your voice to the room. 

Elections in Virginia:  Who Stands for All of Us?

Tomorrow, June 13, is Virginia's primary election.  While Diversity Matters does not provide candidate endorsements, we do track candidate statements and records, and will be sharing our assessments with you.  Today we focus on the primary candidates for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor.  

While we are non-partisan, there is a stark divide between the statements and actions of the Democratic and Republican candidates with respect to some very important recent events, including the neo-Nazi actions to protect Confederate statues in Charlottesville, and the anti-Muslim demonstrations (and counter-demonstrations) this past weekend.  Basically, Dems have staked out all the high ground on these issues.  Every one of the Democratic candidates has a stated policy position on civil rights; none of the Republicans do.  Republican candidates, sadly, are either openly embracing white nationalism, or trying hard not to get in the way of rising intolerance, at least for the primaries.  Perhaps the winners will espouse more tolerant views going into next year's general election, but let's not forget their silence around these recent events.

We're tracking statements by all the candidates on what they will do (or have done) to promote diversity and inclusion among their own staff and business partners, what they think the state government can do, and how they are responding to recent acts of hate speech in the state.

The Democrats:

Overall the Democratic candidates have stepped up to own the space when it comes to inclusion.  We reached out to both the gubernatorial candidates via social media, and Tom Periello replied to us.  Here is what he said:

"Virginia is proud of its diversity and I will fight to keep Virginia inclusive and undivided."  His "Inclusive Virginia" coalition engages more than 30 immigrant minority community organizations.  He hasn't been shy about taking a stand for immigrants and communities of color; his platform proudly notes that he joined protesters at Dulles airport when the original travel ban was issued in January 2017, and states he "will ensure Virginia is a firewall against Donald Trump’s hateful and bigoted agenda by championing anti-discrimination protections and commonsense policies, and taking any and every legal means to combat orders like the travel ban."

Although we heard nothing from Ralph Northram, his official platform contains a number of statements on specific policies he would support that would promote inclusion, including ending discrimination in criminal sentencing and in housing.  He opposes the travel ban.  He was cautious in his reaction to the Charlottesville protests, saying that local communities needed to make their own decisions about Confederate symbols.

As for the Lieutenant Governor candidates, Gene Rossi replied to us and was willing to get specific about our call to ensure that Virginia state government ensures diversity among its own staff and business partners.  He stated that he would insist on anti-discrimination practices in hiring and said he would "encourage and persuade companies that diversity is simply good business!"  We also note that of the Lt. Gov. candidates, Rossi's feed was the only one that mentioned his participation in LGBTI rights events this past weekend.

We didn't hear from Justin Fairfax or Susan Platt. Both candidates made strong statements about taking down the Confederate monuments and symbols.  Fairfax' statement was more detailed and personal, with specific commitments to the African American community:  "At the same time that we rightfully remove from our public square the indefensible and psychologically harmful physical monuments celebrating slavery, the Confederacy, and Jim Crow, we also must do the urgent, difficult, and serious policy work of removing the present-day vestiges of the same, including dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, closing the racial wealth and health gap . . . . increasing diversity among our judges, prosecutors, and public defenders, and continuing the fight against racial gerrymandering and voter suppression."

The Republicans:

For Governor:  Ed Gillespie has avoided engaging his rivals and taking a clear position on controversial issues such as the confederate memorials (like Northram, he said it should be a local decision).  He did reply to a Washington Post article this past weekend that accused him of taking support from an anti-Muslim activist, stating that he "does not condone hatred or discrimination under any circumstance or in any form." However, we make note that when it comes to women's rights, he has been endorsed by the National Right to Life committee.

Frank Wagner is the man in the middle.  A Washington Post article on the candidate positions on LGBTI rights noted Wagner's support for anti-discrimination measures in housing and employment.  He made a stop in the weekend campaign events at the Philippine cultural center to cultivate Asian-American voters.  He opposed removing the Confederate statue in Charlottesville, but refrained from making a strong statement, simply calling it 'political correctness run amok.'

Corey Stewart is the openly intolerant white nationalist.  His response to the spate of hate crimes suggest an aggressive anti-diversity agenda.  He fanned the flames of the Charlottesville protests, showing up to address the white nationalists and posting numerous provocative statements on social media intended to stir up a white nationalist base (i.e. "I will protect historical monuments from destruction and keep Virginia heritage intact.")  He supports the travel ban and has made 'cracking down' on illegal immigration an official plank of his policy platform.

And the Lieutenant Governor candidates on the Republican side:  Bryce Reeves was called out by the Washington Post for his openly anti-gay stance and rhetoric, contrasted with Jill Vogel, who has affirmed support for LGBTI rights.  However, Vogel opposes women's access to legal abortion.  Neither candidate seems to have any statements of support from Latino or African-American communities, nor is there much evidence of outreach to these constituencies, but Reeves has made some efforts to engage Asian-Americans.

Moving on to the general election for Virginia's state legislature:  Keep following us, as once the primaries are behind us we'll start taking a closer look at state legislative races and candidates for the general election this November.

We are a non-partisan initiative and will track Democratic, Republican and third party or independent candidates.

Diversity at the 100 Day Mark

The media focus this week has been on what Trump has, and hasn't, accomplished in his first 100 days in office.  We are taking this moment to also take stock in what the rest of us have accomplished.  Importantly, Diversity Matters will now look ahead.  Our friends and supporters will hear more from us in the coming days about new strategies, and a new scorecard to ensure our elected representatives do more to promote inclusion in politics and policy.  Sign up for our list to find out more!

The record on Trump at 100 days:  We won't waste more ink on the cabinet and subcabinet appointments to date.  Suffice it to say the appointees will shut out, rather than bring in, a diversity of perspectives and experiences.  As for policies, we highlight just two:  the travel ban on individuals from several Muslim-majority countries, and the unleashing of homeland security agents to round up and deport illegal immigrants, including Dreamers.  Together these tell a story of the Trump administration's commitment to a war on diversity, their fear of America's multicultural reality, and their rejection of diversity as a fundamentally American idea and strength.  We've highlighted some recent articles on the ongoing appeals to racism our Facebook page and will continue to share these resources.

The record on the opposition in the first 100 days:  mixed.  Per our earlier posts, we have not only been tracking the Administration, but also the Democratic National Committee.  Our goal is to ensure that they are seeking and supporting diverse candidates around the country- and that the candidates themselves are committed to inclusion.  In the past 100 days, the DNC elected new leadership and has been trying to heal the Sanders/Clinton rift in the party.  Yet the party struggles with continuing tensions on whether it is talking to Trump voters, or to the rest of us, especially in its economic message.  Do we really need different economic justice messages for white coal miners than for Latino health care workers? Going forward we'll be looking for Democratic candidates to stop struggling and stand on the common ground- like the proposed $15 minimum wage that would raise the pay of over 40 million workers- and since low wage workers are disproportionately female, African-American or Latino, this is a policy that lifts everyone's boat.

Finally, the record for the rest of us at 100 days is inspiring. So many actions have brought so many different groups together. One great example: in March 2017 the ACLU launched the People Power Project.  Over 133,000 people have volunteered to put pressure on elected officials and local law enforcement officials to urge adoption of the ‘Freedom Cities’ nine ‘model’ state and local law enforcement policies.  The nine policies expand upon the Sanctuary city concept, providing local law enforcement guidelines for our cities, towns and counties to protect Muslims, immigrants and refugees from some of the worst abuses of the Trump administration.  At Diversity Matters, we have been talking to a number of other exciting new emerging grassroots resistance initiatives, including Indivisible (national and locals) and Rise Stronger, as well as getting back in touch with community activists at the People's Action/ Rise Up conference.

In just 100 days, we see plenty of change in our country.  But it's still our country, and we look forward to working with old friends and new ones to make it better.  We're keeping firmly in mind that many more people voted against Trump than for him, and an even greater number of eligible voters didn't vote at all this year.  We believe the majority of Americans respect one another, value each other's differences, and believe an inclusive society is a better one for all of us.  Keep following us for opportunities to get active with us in the coming days.

 

Diversity Matters. Stand Up for It.

We believe respect for diversity in all its forms is a core American value. Discrimination against gay and transgender people is a form of sex discrimination and cannot be tolerated.  We are asking our supporters to take action because excluding access in public schools leads to broader exclusion of the transgender community from civic participation.

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DNC Officer Elections Tomorrow: What to Watch For

Starting with this disclaimer: We aren’t endorsing a particular candidate or candidates, and Diversity Matters is not a single-party initiative. However, we are closely watching tomorrow’s DNC Officer Elections to see whether we may have an opportunity to infuse our principles into one of our country’s main political parties.

What we’ll be looking for tomorrow:

The Vice Chair race! This has been far less profiled than the race for Chair, but the VC candidates are for the most part more exciting, energizing and creative than the Chair candidates- and they are talking about fundamental changes to how the DNC recruits and supports candidates. These changes would make the party more accountable to a broader and more diverse base. Here is what some of them are saying:

Latoia Jones: “Let the communities tell us who we are going to run.” She has been raising hard, pragmatic issues about budgets, challenging behind-closed- door decisions about spending (or choosing not to spend) on particular candidates and races.

Michael Blake: “We need to be working for ALL of our communities, ALL of the time.” He has a great organizer’s grasp on what this means, and that small things like when and where you hold meetings can include or exclude whole constituencies.

Liz Jaff: “The movements don’t need to come to us. We need to connect to THEM.” She admitted openly that her ideas for harnessing the energy of the netroots/e-activists might not be well-received by party traditionalists but is willing to push the envelope.

And we noted that Rick Palacio was one of the few candidates to raise an issue we believe is very important: the DNC’s own business partners. He was strong on the need for a more diverse and inclusive vendor base.

And what we’ll be looking for AFTER tomorrow:

CLEAR JOB DESCRIPTIONS. Time for the DNC to get a little more transparent on its expectations for both its Chair and Vice Chair, and its metrics to hold its own party officials accountable. We don’t need a talking head for the Sunday morning cable shows. We need great clarity on strategy for expanding and mobilizing the party’s base. We heard less about this from the Chair candidates than the Vice Chairs, so a statement picking up some of the VC ideas would be a great start.

MONEY MATTERS. Some of the Chair candidates, including Ray Buckley and Jehmu Greene, have spoken about the need for transparency and accountability by the DNC on how it is spending its money. We will want to see budget decisions that show a commitment to spend in ways that encourage and enfranchise people who may not be voting, or facing obstacles to voting. It’s not too late to weigh in directly with your state officers via this web link to let them know you expect future candidates for office to endorse, and be accountable to, the principles in the Diversity Declaration!