HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE: Diversity Under Attack!

Nate Waters, Chair, Human Rights Committee 

The tragic murder of George Floyd ignited a global outcry for justice and led to the resurgence of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This incident shed light not only on the plight of African Americans but also on the struggles faced by other marginalized communities. It is disheartening to now be witnessing attacks on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives by some government officials.   

DE&I encompasses much more than race, religion, and political affiliation. It encompasses countless dimensions, including personality traits and other internal characteristics such as gender as well as external factors like educational background. Nevertheless, it is racial diversity that has become a focal point of the current attack on DE&I efforts. Lawmakers imposing restrictions on educational institutions that promote diversity are effectively demonstrating their disregard for minority education and the sharing of their history with other ethnic groups. Ironically, such concerns were seldom raised when schools and textbooks primarily focused on European culture.  

The connection between DE&I and human rights is undeniable. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes the right to be heard, live freely and safely, enjoy freedom of expression, and inhabit a fair and just world. By denying funds to educational institutions, particularly those serving minority communities, officials are perpetuating systemic and systematic racism through legal means. This echoes the discriminatory laws of the past that suppressed employment and educational opportunities for certain groups. 

In combating these attacks, it is crucial for us to unite and advocate for human rights. Our unions, founded on the principles of diversity, can serve as a formidable force for change. Just as the civil rights movement required the collaboration of individuals from all races, creeds, religions, genders, and ethnicities, we must adopt a similar mindset to overcome the challenges of today. Education, exercising our right to vote, speaking truth to power, and demanding accountability are essential steps toward defending and preserving our human rights. Together, we can bring about meaningful change and foster a society that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion.