Before we talk about why we use A.D.E.I., let’s talk for a moment about what it stands for in the first place: Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (A.D.E.I.). Now that we’ve gotten this out of the way, a little story for you:
I was in a heated digital debate with an individual about the fact that anti-racism is not defined as D.E.I. Their reflection was that it is defined that way, because if you are committed to being diverse, equitable, and inclusive, then you are automatically committing to being anti-racist. It was such an eye-opener because I had never heard this perspective through that lens, and the reality is I could understand why someone would think this. Here’s the thing though: It’s wrong.
Let’s take the definition of inclusive. At the core, being inclusive means that I am open to all ideas, perspectives, and options that someone may have even if they differ from my own. But if someone says that they don’t believe racism exists, that Black people are inferior to white people, that Latine women should be paid less than white men, (the list can easily go on), do I have to still be inclusive of them?
According to the definition, yes.
But if I add in anti-racism, maybe not. With anti-racism, I am saying yes, let’s be inclusive and also not uphold perspectives that uphold racist behaviors, beliefs, and perfectives.
It takes the work beyond the traditional definitions and asks us to not group race into a larger conversation about dimensions of diversity but instead, recognizes that in the U.S. in particular, race is a significant part of the conversation that should not be buried because of the systemic impact it has on multiple groups of people.
It reminds us that while yes, race is a social construct, it is a social construct that now matters and affects how people are treated. And we can’t change what we don’t take the time to acknowledge in the first place.
In our work, we use A.D.E.I. because it changes the work and priorities we focus on with teams. We encourage you to have a conversation with your team to reflect on how it would shift your work if you also explicitly named anti-racism as a priority.