John Hamerlinck
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Why Proponents of ABCD Should Be Concerned About Attacks on DEI

user image 2023-08-29
By: John Hamerlinck
Posted in: Reflections and Ideas

Right-wing politicians are attacking programs and policies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at colleges and universities (and ultimately, all levels of education) in the United States. This should concern Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) proponents, because diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental values of ABCD. The concepts are critical to effecting positive change in communities of all sizes.

ABCD is an effective strategy for community improvement because:

  1. ABCD not only believes that every community resident can contribute to community-building, but that their contributions complement the skills and talents of others in the community and can be leveraged by connecting them with the capacities of residents from every conceivable background. ABCD values diversity.
  2. The valued participation in community strengthening activities that is at the core of ABCD, can provide previously denied opportunities to improve the quality of life of marginalized members of the community. ABCD values equity.
  3. Feeling welcomed, heard, and included in the creation of solutions to community challenges helps create the ability to implement capacity-driven results. ABCD values inclusion.

DEI critics have a zero-sum worldview. They believe if you have an opportunity, it means that they don’t; or if it’s fair to you it must be unfair to them. The fact is, however, that giving historically underrepresented groups opportunities does not mean less privilege for dominant groups. 

What Can You Do?

If you agree that this a dangerous direction for education to be heading here are a few things you can do:

  1. ACT LOCALLY - Educate legislators about the value of DEI. Make sure they actually understand the policies they may blindly oppose.

  2. CONTACT YOUR ALMA MATER – Ask if they are taking a stand to support students from historically underrepresented groups. If you support your institution financially with donations, ask that your gifts go to support DEI efforts.

  3. PAY ATTENTION TO ANTI-DEI POLITICAL ACTIVITY & ORGANIZE – The Chronicle of Higher Education maintains a map of anti-DEI legislation. The NASPA website has an Anti-DEI Legislation Response and Resources page.