What does "diversity and inclusion" mean to you?

by Kevin Smith on Off Guardian

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The views expressed are solely those of the authors or commentators and may or may not reflect those of canal666.

With the recent non-stop coverage of the race-related disturbances, media debates on slavery, statues and racial prejudice, some readers might be inclined not to read on.

Over a year ago I recall the collective groan around our office when it was announced we were all to attend a training course on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We were also required to attend a shorter course about unconscious bias, similar to the one Keir Starmer is booked on.

For a few of my colleagues I expect it was timely reminder to avoid engaging in anything remotely resembling office banter or innuendo.

But the training course got me thinking a little about what these words and values really mean and how they should be measured.

My thoughts were reignited late last year when I came across a competition, the theme of which was "embracing differences". Entrants were asked to come up with a quote of no more than 20 words saying what embracing inclusion and diversity means to them.

However, I anticipated that the competition judges would be conditioned to expect something restricted to inclusion and diversity interaction in our western "liberal" culture and the shallow sound-bites and virtual-signalling that go with it.

The problem

My view is that on race, equality and diversity issues we create problems which didn't previously exist and ignore huge problems which do, for reasons I'll explain.

Contrary to what we are told, the "advanced" West doesn't have ownership of equality, inclusion and diversity. This, I believe is because the majority of the public understand these values very narrowly in terms of in their own life, work, country or sphere of the world.

In contrast, I would imagine the thoughts of the majority here are very much focused on other societies and people throughout the world and our attitude towards and what we can learn from them.

So, I think on all levels, equality, inclusion and diversity needs to be redefined to a broader more global awareness.

In the West we are too inward-looking and eager to jump on any political bandwagon without thought for the consequences.

When I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the high-profile people and celebrities weighing in on matters they know nothing or care about, to promote themselves and their politics. The "anti-Semitism" hoax which was cynically used by Labour politicians and celebrities and there's been plenty of grandstanding over "Black Lives Matter"

All these people claim to embrace equality, inclusion and diversity but use war, religion and race to bolster themselves with what may appear on the surface to be genuine, caring narratives. But the reality is they create division in society and the world, then distance themselves from the fall-out.

Like many, I can't help thinking that at least some of these events are related to the repeated attempts to undermine and remove Trump – media and celebrity culture being used to whip up the hysteria which in turn stirs up the general public.

The end result is this distracts away from big issues such as world conflict, imperialism and corruption, most of the general public on either "side" viewing race, inclusion and diversity in very simplistic and divisive terms.

I don't believe anyone can claim to embrace inclusion and diversity, while failing to adopt careful thinking and behaviour towards all humans everywhere.

Recent thinking

Just the other day with the latest furore on everything race, I started thinking about recent events and the new names, expressions and slogans we keep hearing.

"Black Lives Matter", "White Lives Matter" "cancel culture", "taking the knee", chucking statues in rivers and all the virtual signalling celebrity bandwagons on Twitter.

I feel inclusion and diversity are about respecting and including others, being compassionate to all and self-aware.

But I also think the crucial part of it is about self-education and reflection, being inquisitive and having the ability to think critically, fairly and without prejudice and reflecting this in our actions. Sadly, much of this is well beyond the scope of every-day interaction between diverse people and groups in UK and western society and work training courses.

My other thoughts which may be shared by many readers is that our attitude towards people beyond our shores should not be determined by the same standards we claim to hold in our societies.

They should have the freedom to evolve in the way they choose, as we did – before we screwed it up. But we should not interfere or sanction – we should build relations and consensus despite our differences.

The blind arrogance and let's be frank, racism dressed up as either "patriotism" or "liberal" human rights concern towards Russia, China, Africa and the Middle East is so typical in mainstream media and celebrity circles and has compounded so much conflict and prejudice. For me this is a massive double standard.

Given that so far, significant sections of our populations lack the ability to think critically and reflect on these matters, we have a lot to learn from less-developed societies about basic decent values. For reasons I'll go on to explain, if we don't wake up now, our present delusion of our righteousness and pureness could bite us hard.

A word about unconscious bias

As I mentioned above, I attended a work training course on unconscious bias. I'm open-minded to these things but normally a good training course which teaches me something useful always sticks with me. I honestly remember little about the content of the course.

Thinking back, I believe the simple reason was that I didn't think unconscious bias was a significant issue in the grand scheme. We all have unconscious bias and perhaps in a world which was free of greater problems related to racism, foreign wars of aggression and conscious and open discrimination, I could see more of a relevance.

This article on RT about unconscious bias is worth reading and the concluding paragraphs, I think articulately sums up my feelings.

But shouldn't we be more concerned about what we do, rather than what we – unconsciously – think? This new and sustained focus on the unconscious by the so-called "race experts" who perform the bias training essentially represents the colonisation of people's internal thought processes.

And if we continue down this path, brainwashing will become legitimate policy.

So perhaps this fits in with my general thoughts that we concentrate too much on the less important to the detriment of tackling the most serious problems arising from actions.

Some quotes

Anyway, with the competition about diversity and inclusion still in my mind, I thought I would write down some quotes which provoke some real thoughts.

If we are to address cynical attempts to create or compound divisions and so highlight the real issues, I think our message has to be simple, yet profound. One which also meets the requirements of the short attention span level most of the general public have. At least to start off a thought-process in these people.

I jotted down some quotes as below which try to encapsulate these thoughts. They probably won't win a competition, but I think some of them perhaps remind us that thinking carefully beyond our own lives, workplaces and shores is the crucial point of this.

We should learn that genuine celebration of diversity is found most in societies where the word "diversity" is seldom used.

Equality, diversity and inclusion are empty, insincere words if we in the West continue waging wars abroad.

Diversity at home is celebrating our differences. On the world stage it us allowing less developed societies to evolve freely.

To embrace inclusion and diversity you need to be an ambassador for humanity, not a citizen of one state.

We should be learning from states in the world which are states for all religions and for no religion.

Diversity is not about glossing over differences to make us appear all equal. It is about treating all with equal respect.

Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria

This is where the lack of thinking and shallow attitudes on race, inclusion and diversity in the West comes to the surface. To demonstrate our displeasure against inequality based on race, we tear down 300-year old stone statues.

But meanwhile, in Iraq, millions were killed and displaced by the Blair government, a country still shattered today.

In Libya, a country was destroyed by the Cameron government, now slave markets run.

In Yemen, with our complicity, millions of people are bombed back to the stone-age.

In Syria, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse nations in the world, we arm and fund racist, sectarian terrorists to try to unseat a president we disapprove of. And we starve their people under sanctions.

How many misinformed comments and slogans have we heard from "woke" liberals in the West about unproven and unlikely bombed hospitals and chemical weapons in Syria?


Yet so few comments from the same people about the people of Yemen who are undeniably dying daily from British bombs, disease and starvation.

The people of all the nations above have been dehumanised, misrepresented and ignored by our government, media and general public. So much for inclusion and diversity.

The countries and people of the countries we've been attacking, stand head and shoulders above us in terms of human rights, inclusion, diversity, and resilience.

For example, Syria isn't and has never claimed to be a perfect system or society. But it embraces the freedom of religious worship and despite war, its many ethnic groups live together peacefully.

It's resisted 9 years of war waged from outside which we could never have endured and come out stronger in many ways. I know that often countries under war or sanctions become more united, resilient and resourceful and Syria, despite our repeated meddling will evolve to something better than before. Syria and other "less developed" nations are not obsessed about the words, equality, inclusion and diversity as we are. They just get on with it.

A warning for the future

Equality, inclusion and diversity as we understand them in the West are just empty words to hide behind and make us feel better about ourselves.

For their faults, you'll find these values more associated with the behaviour of Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Iran and their people.

Do we in the West possess the same intelligence, community spirit and resilience as our so-called rivals?.

I rather doubt that as we in the big boys world club have become pampered and dumbed-down, allowing our thinking to become tainted by identity politics, celebrity and "woke" culture and consumerism. Covid-19 and the blind surrender to lockdown shows clearly that we're not the nation we once were.

Today, the West claims to be the champion of human rights, diversity and inclusion but in the background of an aggressive foreign policy and dehumanising wars of regime change against other races of people.

Meanwhile a rapidly evolving Russia with admittedly some human rights issues within seeks pragmatism, partnership and consensus in its foreign relations with all countries. Based on what we've been told about Russia for years, this may seem a little back to front. But I know which "side" is the biggest threat to peace, inclusion and diversity on this planet and its not Russia.

For one relatively recent example of what being liberal and diverse means in western society nowadays look no further than the Americans and also the Israelis painting fighter jets pink for breast cancer awareness month.

Here is my quote on that.

Inclusion and diversity is not about pink fighter-jets for breast-cancer awareness month. It's about all humanity below the flight- path.

Concluding thoughts

It's clear that we in the West are living under a massive delusion. Our leaders are destroying the rest of the world while distracting the public with silly counterproductive debates and slogans.

Until the UK and the West respects human rights, equality and decency in their true definition, racism will always exist in our societies. Demonstrating against racism in our communities or attending diversity and inclusion training courses is largely pointless.

The obvious end result of all this as I've mentioned here before, is a hot war with Russia, likely triggered by "humanitarian intervention" in Syria or elsewhere. Or possibly with China, considering the hostile rhetoric we've been hearing more of recently.

The UK and the West is not at the forefront of humanitarian values, diversity and inclusion and never has been. It's against them, so is against all of us.

The so-called less-developed world actually has a better record than us. If a devastating global conflict can somehow be avoided, I suspect it won't be long before we look to them for help and inspiration to overthrow the whole rotten system which is working against all of us.

    last comments from Off Guardian
    Isabelle 2 Sep 2021 | 2:10 am

    In reply to sharon marlowe.

    Mount Rushmore is on sacred land (the Black Hills). Blowing it up to destroy the images carved into the mountain will make things worse. It is never the Lakota who suggest blowing it up, only people who are not Indigenous. If the petition to remove the carvings is ever honored, I would expect they'd be removed in a way to minimize further damage to the mountain.

    Keto is natural 17 Jul 2020 | 5:49 pm

    In reply to Dave Lawton.

    Ford was brutal. There are others. The UK government hand over billions to Siemens for the climate change con (wind farms), yet it was them who funded the SS pension fund. Hilarious.

    paul 16 Jul 2020 | 7:14 pm

    In reply to sandys.

    No, you need to relocate to Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit.
    ABCD. Try all 4 in turn to get the real black paradise experience.

    Morgan Mundane 16 Jul 2020 | 6:11 pm

    As a former training manager for a large state district, I was pretty much ordered more then once to schedule our employees for "Diversity Traininig". The quiet joke for me was my district was 99% white.Our State Psychologist, who was a friend of mine, spilled the beans that they were having problems in the twin cities area with employees of color, and instead of trying to resolve that, they decided to do the entire state, all districts so no one knew it was just a small area that had problems.
    Over the years I got so sick of scheduling this crap. I use to call it how to get along training but it was really, you white people, here's what you need to know to work with people of color and other minorties. As in if we understood more, problems wouldn't be occuring.
    This is exactly what I'm hearing on tv these days on the talk shows too. Whitey doesnt understand so were going to force you to understand that A, were in charge now and your the minority.

    sandys 15 Jul 2020 | 8:45 pm

    In reply to paul.

    I was gentrified out of Oakland and had to move north. My soul is still there. The most radical community i've experienced. I love Oaktown! …been to Atlanta just passing thru tho.

    paul 15 Jul 2020 | 7:40 pm

    In reply to sandy.

    The whitest part of the country. Try relocating to Atlanta to experience the bliss of Wakanda style Atlanta.

    paul 15 Jul 2020 | 7:31 pm

    In reply to Gwyn.

    Ah, but everybody knows Bombing Brown People is good for them.

    alex 15 Jul 2020 | 12:56 pm

    Heartfelt concern about diversity is shown through public displays of 'philanthropy' – the modern branding tool of choice.
    Corporations pledge token amounts to get free advertising and we buy their stuff.

    jaz 15 Jul 2020 | 12:35 pm

    In reply to Nick.

    funny how israel isn't included in the list, but palestine is!

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