By editorial board • 

Timing ups the ante for diversity and equity push

The city of McMinnville is riding a powerful state and regional tailwind, but bucking a powerful national headwind, in moving toward adoption of a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion program destined to affect all of its policies, projects and personnel.

We support that effort. It simply continues four-score years of evolution from a society where the resources were concentrated in large measure among white male landowners to one in which citizens of other heritage, gender and economic status increasingly enjoyed as least the legal framework of equity.

Consider this:

Eighty years ago, African Americans were almost entirely barred from serving in the military, holding public office, serving in professional or administrative capacities or participating in collegiate or professional athletics. In much of the country, they faced severe limitations on where they could live, study, work, vote or even recreate.

Only a few years earlier, we had uprooted Asian Americans and herded them into detention centers in remote and desolate regions for fear they were support Japan in the Pacific Theater. And women didn’t begin to get significant access to college and workplace opportunities until the war effort left a vacuum that needed filling.

Meanwhile, each succeeding wave of new immigrants, particularly those whose physical appearance made them relatively easy to identify or misidentify, had to run a gauntlet of economic and social deprivation for at least a generation before achieving any meaningful measure of acceptance.

And sadly, all of those are things ascendant politicians in many parts of the country want expunged from school and college textbooks. These politicians would take a leaf from Russia and China in wiping the record clean of the inconvenient and unpleasant excesses of previous generations.

Yes, our nation has made substantial progress on virtually all fronts. But much remains to be done if we are to fully honor the bedrock American pledge of equal opportunity for all, without regard to any of the many distinctions that can be used to divide and oppress.

The premise is straightforward.

Diversity refers to the representation of people from a full range of backgrounds, beliefs and other characteristics at all levels, including the upper levels. Equity to providing them with equal opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the American Dream, based solely on merit. Inclusion to creating conditions where they all feel equally welcomed, valued and heard.

Given the intense political focus of a presidential election year, particularly when one of the presumptive nominees is openly hostile, embarking on a new DEI effort that stands to prove especially perilous right now.

That makes it imperative the city get it right. If many thousand tax dollars are wasted on toothless good intentions, it will roil DEI’s legion of critics into an orgy of outrage.

Let’s make sure the city’s equity lens doesn’t end up obscured with the dust of apathy, complacency and bureaucracy. Those of us who believe from the bottom of our hearts in diversity, equity and inclusion deserve better that just one more study for the bookshelf.


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