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DEI in 2024: What's Next for us?

This is gonna ruffle some feathers, but I have time. Some need to hear this. Hit dogs will holler and if it doesn't apply, let it fly.

For DEI to be taken seriously at this stage it will need to be stripped from its industrial complex and repackaged as what it was intended to be before capitalism got its dirty hands all over it: a grassroots practice of putting marginalized communities in the forefront of dismantling injustice, not those who subscribe to being a star performer in corporate and academic DEI Theater.

If you haven't been paying attention DEI has been picked on as the "bad guy" for a while, and some of it (not all, of course) is for good reason. Hear me out.

As a practitioner in this space before it was made popular by one of the many Black men unalived by state-sanctioned violence, here are my critiques:

We talk of solidarity, but virtually demonstrate no solidarity of our own. Roughly how many are there of us? Do we even know? How do we stand with each other and communities?

We fold DEI into a box that corporations use to make it performative and choose BIPOC communities to represent to legitimize the theater.

We fail to provide a collective manifesto or collective charter in what the DEI movement entails and why it's important to all humans. What are our guiding principles?

We sacrifice those we are charged to help and build community with in order to get coins, be a token, or receive accolades. Our individualism in the DEI space is shameful. 

We let social justice (work grounded in the community of everyday people) get watered down in order to fit the power dynamics of powerful corporations creating what's being thrown around as "DEI". This often rings hollow because if the people are still under the thumb of leadership's power to upend their lives, how are we actually moving the needle of progress?

If we don't walk the line of pro-capitalism, pro-hierarchy, anti-collectivism, we're ostracized as being "too radical" inside and outside the DEI space. Forgetting that without radical imagination, there is no community nor justice nor liberation.

These so called "radicals" won't ever fit into a space with that narrow concept of equity and inclusion because they know such a balancing act only emboldens the morally corrupt and power hoarders to manipulate this work in their favor.

We have no union, no mutual aid, hell, not even a trade association at the VERY least... NOTHING to look after those who do this work constantly at the expense of losing jobs, contracts, essential resources to live, etc. Y'all keep behaving as if all businesses want real Anti-racist, inclusive practices because they're hiring...but many are still "checking a box."

We can fix these things if we really want. They can only be fixed by us--we can't blame the governors and the CEO's that pay them on these, yo. This is all on us.

I want to believe it's possible. We just need to get out of our own way.

We can right the ship and reaffirm why we do this work in our spaces. Feelings will be hurt. Real talk must be had. What are our end goals? If we can collectively complain on how DEI "gets no respect", we can collectively change it up.

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