A Better Tomorrow for Everyone’s Child:
Another heartbreaking tragedy has created a movement, which will not be quelled, for long-needed change. This movement must result in action to create opportunities through programs for inclusion via equity. Being personally unbiased, but publicly silent, will not embolden change. As stated by Cornel West, “Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it.”
The Equity 4 LI Youth (www.Equity4LIYouth.org) is one avenue for positive inspired change. Our committee will confront long-standing barriers and connect a diverse population of young people to employment, training, and mentoring opportunities to address past inequities. The challenges are many, but by leveraging leaders in multiple areas, a network of opportunities can create one link to a better tomorrow.
To achieve our goal, we must first define the problems related to the current societal employment model. Achievement of equity must help rectify existing, accepted paradigms, which we have identified and summarized to confront.
Why did this situation develop?
Exclusion is not always overt. The process to exclude may emanate from a culture of advocating for a continuance of what “we are” and people who know “our community”. While generally not the intent, this process results in a continuation of the same racial distribution moving forward, as diversity was not present historically.
How was it maintained?
Some communities have influential individuals who vilify agents of change. This is an effective way to deter change and stifle a natural progression to a more inclusive future. Altered narratives of history are presented and preserved through symbolic gestures. Documented facts are the adversary of the leaders of an exclusionary past.
When statistics clearly show the patterns of exclusion, why are these people not exposed and vilified?
A powerful tactic to oppose positive change, and the inevitability of diversity prevailing when a critical mass of progressive people obtains the authority to act, is to malign the agents of change. The best tactic is to claim the new leaders are the cause of the pre-existing condition. This tactic is used often in the political arena where the change agent is labeled with an antagonist’s weakness to divert attention from the documented facts. This tactic is often successful, short-term.
How can this tactic be overcome to the benefit of our community?
Change agents, and the critical mass of community people who desire fairness and diversity, must aggressively and quickly respond to false claims. The discussion must shift to the facts and away from the false narratives presented of a glorious past, which, in reality, only served those in a position of power. Positive collaborative change is essential and will be advantageous to our community.
What are the consequences of exclusion?
Exclusion of segments of our society minimizes the pool of available candidates for positions of employment. Diversity must be supported because inclusion produces a better result for the community. Being diverse expands the pool of candidates available for positions at all levels of employment. True initiatives for diversity will achieve a greater number of applicants, resulting in increased competition for scarce jobs, which develops better candidates.
What is the path forward?
Change must be in all employment areas, at all levels of all organizations, achieved by recruitment and mentoring. This is not a matter of occasional diverse hires, which was a traditional tactic to mollify change agents. A consistent commitment to a culture of diversity is needed to establish an organization as a destination for diverse candidates. When a culture of inclusion is achieved, a welcoming environment for diverse candidates will energize our efforts long-term.
What are our future goals?
I implore our community to look forward and build toward more inclusion. Support leaders willing to challenge the status quo through the development of human and financial resources to our shared benefit. Achievement is about what we accomplish moving forward to serve all young people in an inclusive manner. We must collaborate to create a better tomorrow.
What can we do?
Please support the initiatives of the Equity 4 LI Youth Committee (formerly Economic Opportunity For All Youth Committee) and our developing network of partners. Our committee is not seeking, or accepting, any monetary donations, only to identify people in a position to foster change, via their input and collaboration.
- Dr. Patrick Pizzo