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Lessons From the Movement to Free Palestine

The ongoing protests against the genocide of Palestinians remind me that there is strength in numbers. My heart remains broken over the violence, illness, and inhumane treatment that has been inflicted on Palestine; yet, my hope is fed by the community of people around the world who share the active hope of ending the genocide and freeing Palestine. 


As hundreds of protestors remain on college campuses across the country, it’s made me reflect on how the ongoing violence unveils similar truths about the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion work. 


Woman holds a sign that read, "Where are the feminists?" with red tape over her mouth

It’s not lost on me that the same colleges and universities that are grappling with DEI and anti-Blackness within their own institutions are also the home of current protests. Militarism and imperialism are both by-products of White Supremacy Culture and a desire for Black and Brown people to be ruled over instead of power shared with. 

The violence that peaceful protestors have been met with speaks to the need for any movements that challenge the natural order of White Supremacy to be stomped out. Speaking out against the powers that be is a high-risk action to take, especially for Black and Brown people and those with less privilege. 

So, what does it all mean for you in the workplace? How can this time of resistance be used to inform your DEI efforts? 


Safety 

Much of the violence that protestors on campuses are facing is rooted in the belief that their nonviolent resistance is a greater threat to power structures than the violence that moved them to protest in the first place. 


Text across the top of the picture reads, "Today at UCLA: Zionists yelling 'animal' 'go listen to your master' and 'fuck BLM' at Black and pro-Palestinian protesters... but we're the violent ones right?" Picture shows man holding an Israeli flag yelling at protestors. A man behind him is sticking the middle finger up at protestors.

Building safety in the context of the workplace requires first acknowledging that Black and Brown people enter the space vulnerable to harmful biases and racist behaviors and thus require mindfulness around the protections they need to thrive. 

Safety can’t be measured by what will make those with power feel most comfortable. Safety is a measurement of how permeable your working environment is to resistance and if its rigid boundaries do more to keep people out than to call them in. 

Are there inconsistencies in your company values that could be addressed? Safety is the key that unlocks the potential for growth and advancing DEI values. 


Peace

Martin Luther King provides a working definition of peace that is useful in this context. “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” 

Attempting to create peace, whether in the world or in the workplace, is only achieved when we can first sit with and understand the tension that exists. Skipping over that to create peace just for peace’s sake removes an opportunity to advance equity and justice. 

When it comes to your organization’s DEI strategy, consider where you are pushing for neutrality and peace at the expense of justice. Recognizing any tension that arises not as something to be feared, but something to learn from and use to change behaviors, is key. 


Picture shows three hands all holding a sign that says, "profit over people = genocide. Divest"

Palesfine’s liberation is inextricably linked to Black liberation. If we allow it, DEI holds the key to advancing both. Schedule your consultation with ShiftED Consulting to begin your journey today. 




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