Equity and Justice in English and Communication

In higher education, ensuring diversity and inclusion of minorities at public institutions is an important activity. However, detrimental administrative disputes over interpreting diversity and grounds for inclusion continue to occur. These disagreements often result in misunderstanding what diversity means and inclusion initiatives that are over-stretched and apply to privileged groups. Poorly defining diversity and watering-down inclusion illustrate growing problems. Administrators, faculty, and students struggle to define diversity to emphasize the underprivileged. And, institutions wrestle to focus inclusion efforts for oppressed groups who need it. As such, I am writing this statement to take a stand on diversity and inclusion and share how I address these problems with equity and justice informed by my research.

Diversity & Inclusion
As a communication educator, it is my job to take-on tough conversations for civic good. For our culture, no conversations are harder than race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and nationality. As a moral compass for students, I am responsible for providing space for diverse voices and including many perspectives. But, herein lies a problem we confront when navigating loose diversity definitions and too-broad inclusion initiatives. When we define diversity to include attributes of the dominant group, the marginalized voices needing amplification receive less. And, when we broaden inclusion to parts of privileged groups, oppressed groups are left-out. Add to this the hands-off approach of many institutions toward faculty and educators feel impotent in their classrooms to tackle controversial issues. To address these problems, I seek spaces informed by equity and justice in English and Communication.

Equity and Justice
From my research on diversity, equity and justice for excluded, marginalized, and underprivileged voices are what make diversity and inclusion matter. First, groups who are different from the dominant group must be central to diversity. Diverse groups must be the focus as we already know the dominant voice; they do not need equal hearing. Thus, equity for non-dominant communication is required for it to have the same strength. As for justice, attending those left-out of the conversation by including their perspective in contexts where they’re ignored is justice. For inclusion, analysis of excluded peoples and triangulating their integration into specific contexts must be done to avoid the more privileged. This makes inclusion matter.

My position on diversity and inclusion rests upon the practices of equity and justice for the historically marginalized, excluded, and oppressed. As an educator and researcher, I have made it my mission to have tough conversations with my administrators, colleagues and students. I work together with these groups to redefine diversity to favor the underprivileged. I aim to distill inclusion for those who have been excluded and then to help them integrate. I strive to create shared spaces where there is not equal treatment, but equity in representation. And, I push for justice for all peoples’ communication and experiences from which we may learn and respond appropriately. This is my stand on diversity and inclusion and view of equity and justice.