By E. T. Smith
A guide to the Diversity and Inclusion topic in the Commons Social Change Library.
Welcome to the Diversity and Inclusion topic in the Commons Social Change Library. We believe that strong movements are made up of diverse participants, each bringing their particular talents, perspectives, and community connections. Developing such movements requires an appreciation for the value of diversity, as well as experience including, and working in solidarity with, those who are marginalised by the dominant assumed common culture.
To help navigate within the broad scope this topic includes, we’ve outlined examples from four broad types of resources:
- resources that clarify key concepts used in movements seeking to improve diversity and inclusion practices;
- resources to help those building capacity to recognise and resist oppression of all forms, such as by seeking out diverse perspectives and recognising and leveraging privileges.
- advice for taking action, including specific acts of inclusion, acts of solidarity, and acts of resistance.
- examples of drawing on collective strategies to act together to build long-lasting movements for change, including resources focused on current better-future building practices, historical lessons, and inspiration for maintaining hope.
You can also search within the topic, narrowing down the results using the ‘Refine by Format’, ‘Refine by Author’, and ‘Refine by Collection’ filter functions. Additionally, the ‘Refine by Topic’ option can be used to filter resources that cross overs with specific other topics (e.g. History, First Nations Resources, or Coalition Building).
The concepts used in social movements are both valuable tools for critical practice and potential barriers to participation.
Key concepts provide the building blocks for imagining and creating change. However, short-hand references to concepts without explanation can be confusing and make those who aren’t familiar with the terms feel excluded (the opposite of what we’re intending!) One way to reduce this barrier is to amplify existing explanations of frequently taken-for-granted concepts used within social movements.
To support this practice, we are gathering existing explanations of key concepts used for navigating diversity through inclusion and solidarity practices.
These resources provide explanations of key concepts in diversity, inclusion and solidarity:
- ‘Nothing about us without us’: a slogan that emerged within Disability Activism, as explained by Carly Findlay in Centre the voices of people with disability
- Intersectionality: an analytic concept that emerged within the context of Black Feminist legal activism, as explained in Kimberlé Crenshaw’s TED talk The Urgency of Intersectionality
- Consciousness-raising: a concept for a process for raising awareness of societal oppression while breaking down competition and isolation. Common with feminist movements during the 1970s, Holly Hammond’s (2017) Consciousness-raising post outlines the broader relevance of this practice for building social movements today.
- Many more concepts are covered in Carolyn D’Cruz’s (2020) Democracy in Difference: Debating key terms of gender, sexuality, race and identity
For additional overviews of key concepts used in the context of movements for social change, also see:
- Fritsch, Kelly, Clare O’Connor, and A. K. Thompson, eds. (2016) Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle. AK Press.
- Self Defined: a modern dictionary about us
- Privilege 101 by Sian Ferguson (2014)
Learning to understand the value of diverse perspectives and to develop inclusive and solidarity practices takes time. These resources provide avenues for listening to marginalised perspectives, recognising when we have relative privilege within different contexts, and advice for how to leverage these privileges effectively.
Seeking out marginalised perspectives
- Climate Justice and Feminism Resource Collection
- Disability Justice Links
- Resources About Police Violence and Racial Justice
- A History of LGBTIQ+ Victoria in 100 Places and Objects
- Black History Month Library
- Reset 6: Centring Justice & Care
Recognising and leveraging privileges
- Get real about privilege: Become an ally
- Becoming allies: Reaching across the divide
- Advice for pro indigenous white activists in Australia
- Decolonizing Solidarity Bookclub
There are many ways we can contribute to creating the changes we want to see in the world. For those seeking to contribute to a world where diversity is valued, these include acts of inclusion that reduce specific barriers to participation, acts of resistance that defy specific systems of oppression, and acts of solidarity that support the resistance acts of others in recognition that all systems of oppression are interlinked.
Acts of inclusion
A resource that helps to clarify how acts of inclusion contribute to social change:
Resources on how specific acts of inclusions can be cultivated within various contexts:
- Community-led design
- How to make your social justice event accessible
- Supporting Transgender and Gender Diverse People in the Workplace
- Improve your website accessibility
- The 6 Elements of Open (People-Powered) Campaigns Template
Acts of resistance
A resource that helps to clarify how acts of resistance contribute to social change:
Resources highlighting how specific acts of resistance are being cultivated within various contexts:
- Australian Black Lives Matter Rallies
- Aboriginal Memoirs as Social Activism
- Queer is in! Now politics needs to catch up
- Disability Justice Links
- First Nations Resources
Acts of solidarity
A resource that helps to clarify how acts of solidarity contribute to social change:
- The Intertwine Charter: Going beyond anti-discrimination and towards pro-active change to welcome others
Resources on how specific acts of solidarity can be cultivated within various contexts:
- Standing in Solidarity with People of Colour
- Supporting Indigenous Leadership in the Climate Movement
- Supporting Young People’s Activism in the Climate Emergency
- Fighting online racist trolls
- How to deal with racism at ‘that’ awkward Christmas dinner
The impact of individual acts of inclusion, solidarity, and resistance can be amplified when they contribute to collective strategies for building better futures. The following sample of resources includes some current collective approaches to building better futures, historical examples of collective strategies, and inspirational sources for maintaining hope in how our individual actions can contribute to collective strategies.
Building better futures
- Action in Times of Uncertainty – makes the case for people power to address economic inequality and social exclusion – Winnie Byanyima, at Progress 2017.
- All in For A Feminist Recovery – a Virtual Progress 2020 panel with Khara Jabola Carolus, Jo Schofield, Tuisina Ymania Brown, Dr Jackie Huggins AM, and Noelene Nabulivou
- An interview with the founders of Black Lives Matter by Mia Birdsong (2016).
- Our fight for disability rights – and we’re not done yet, a 2017 TED talk by Judith Heumann
- Young people leading the way by Sashenka Worsman from Oaktree
- Queer is in! Now politics needs to catch up by Micah Scott
- Coalition building practices – various tools and articles in the Commons Library Coalition Building topic
- Lessons from the Disability Justice Movement
- What the gay rights movement learned from the civil rights movement
- What we can learn from the LGBTQ movement’s 50 years of achievement
- The battle for Aboriginal heritage on Perth’s foreshore 30 years on
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Timeline of Resistance
- Reset Reading Group – a series of readings about ideas for a just future
- Inspiring quotes from women leaders and activists
- Films about women and social change
- Films about social movement struggles, victories and leaders
- Review of Hope in the Dark
Thanks to E.T. Smith, Commons Library volunteer, for putting together this comprehensive guide. If you have additional materials that should be included in this topic please contact the Commons Librarians.