Activism Outside and Inside the Institution

Activism inside and outside the institution: Strategies and tactics for increasing diversity, equity and inclusion Tara Robertson Slides:

The recording for the talk I did for Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Digital Pedagogy Webinar Series is up. Here’s the video and the slides.

I submitted the title and abstract 6 months ago and as I wrote the talk I realized that the dichotomy of inside/outside is much messier than the title suggests. It’s a false dichotomy to frame burning it down from the outside or building building new ways of doing things on the inside. Most of us, whether we are inside or outside an institution, do both–we build new things AND destroy barriers and structures that need to go. 

The talk had four parts:

  1. Introducing myself and sharing some context about where I’m from.
  2. Sharing about some of the queer and feminist activism I did in my 20s and 30s, including The Lesbian Avengers, swimming on several International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics teams, The Glasgow Women’s Library, and some of my union involvement especially speaking up for sex workers rights at the Workers Out human rights conference.
  3. Defining what I mean by diversity, equity and inclusion and talking about some of the work I led at Mozilla.
  4. Naming 3 people who I see as possibility models of powerful change agents within their organizations as well as make bigger ripples for change in the world.

Dr. Dori Tunstall, Respectful design + decolonizing hiring @deandori_ocadu

Dr. Dori Tunstall is the Dean of Design at OCADU. She’s leading systems change work at her university. This is visible through her work on respectful design and leading very successful Indigenous and Black faculty cluster hires that are both shifting representation and more importantly changing the culture of the institution. Follow her Instagram account  where she spotlights Black and Indigenous fashion and design and models self-care/repair as a leader.

Dr. Ninan Abraham, What have we been missing in racial equity in academia?

Dr. Ninan Abraham is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Department of Zoology and the Associate Dean of Equity and Diversity in the Faculty of Science. I tuned into his February 11th webinar titled “What have we been missing in racial equity in academia?” and it was the most robust diversity data analysis I’ve seen in a post-secondary institution. Two things that stuck with me were the observations from the hiring funnel analysis and how the term racialized (and who sees themselves as racialized) isn’t straightforward. Look for these findings in a forthcoming publication with Carola Hibsch-Jetter, Howard Ramos and Minelle Mahtani. 

Annie Jean-Baptiste, Founder of The Equity Army

Annie Jean-Baptiste is the author of Building for Everyone, the Head of Product Inclusion at Google and the Founder of the Equity Army.

The Equity Army is a community of learners, builders, dreamers and doers who are committed to ensuring everyone, especially historically underrepresented people, feel seen in any product or service. The Equity Army meets in an informal cohort model and learns about product inclusion, shares resources, hears from subject matter experts, and most importantly, takes action.

I’m part of the current cohort and it’s the most diverse group of people I’ve ever worked with. I can see the diversity on so many intersectional axes: race, age, gender, disability, geography, education, industry, role and level. I’m sure there’s other dimensions I’m not able to see yet. I’m massively excited to have found a community to learn and take action with.

As we all do the work of diversity, equity and inclusion as activists in community or as activists within our organizations it’s important to have community to learn from, to share courage with, and to be accountable to. What community do you need to do this work?