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Room at the Table (A Frank Talk about DEI)

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A blog post from our next guest, actress, singer, mom and activist, Malynda Hale. I’ve taken a while to give my full thoughts on DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) because it’s something that matters a lot to me. I wanted to make sure when I finally shared this that I was able to express everything I wanted to convey.


First and foremost, the purpose of DEI has always been to create an environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. And while the intention of DEI is important and one that should be embraced by all, I have no qualms about admitting that there are some cracks in the foundation.  Additionally, the way it’s been discussed among people who have no intention of truly learning what DEI is has only hindered its progress.  This is why we are seeing so many DEI programs and initiatives dismantled across the country.


What I’ve learned over the years is that people tend to think DEI only applies to Black people. I believe this stems in part from societal guilt: deep down, I think they know the Black community has not truly been included equitably in this country, and that our very history has affected the progress we have been allowed to make as a community.  When you have to embrace initiatives intended to fix an issue, you are admitting there was an issue to begin with.  Unfortunately, we have not fully reached that place in this country.


DEI should always include all marginalized groups and respect and honor their identities and ethnicities. This is where it has fallen short. There are limits to who people view as marginalized and why they’ve created that perspective, and I’d like to share some thoughts on that.


When we think of a marginalized group, we think of people who have been “othered” in some capacity, whether it’s because of their race, religion, ethnicity, identity or abilities. Unfortunately, the politics of this country have allowed for entirely too many groups to be marginalized. This is why we need DEI. But I’ve noticed that many people tend to forget certain groups that are historically marginalized in these conversations. For example, the Jewish community.


The Jewish community is typically not included in these conversations, and I think it’s because many people view the Jewish diaspora as being simply white. So it would make sense that you wouldn’t include them in these efforts because white people are not seen as marginalized. But that perception of the Jewish community as a whole is incorrect.


The Jewish diaspora is not only an ethno-religion but a multi-ethnic existence. Of course there are white Jews, but I’m blessed to know so many Black and Brown Jews and have heard them express their disappointment on their lack of inclusion. Knowing that only part of them is allowed to be included in these conversations is something that needs to be addressed. But even if you simply focus on just being Jewish, history will show us that this community has consistently been othered, no matter their race within the diaspora. They’ve been pushed out, ostracized and killed simply for being who they are. Many people either don’t know this or simply refuse to believe it.


Another misconception is that the Jewish community is not marginalized and doesn’t need to be included because they are “doing just fine”. But I’ve come to learn their resilience and ability to thrive is because of their internal connection. They are unified in a way that many marginalized communities aren’t. A lot of marginalized groups do not agree on the path forward, which fosters division and makes progress a more difficult task.


The Jewish community has a long history of being ostracized yet it has found ways to thrive internally, so the rest of the world may see the need for the Jewish community’s inclusion as being inconsequential: “Why should we include people who are doing well?” Well, they’ve been forced to do well on their own and support their own because of how they’ve been alienated. And as we have seen lately, the rise in hate towards their community shows even more so the undeniable need for us to be educated about every marginalized group’s struggles.


This is simply one example. There are other groups who aren’t included in DEI initiatives as well, and I honestly think aiming to include every single group that’s viewed as marginalized will only make the efforts and progress stronger. We can’t fight any fight alone. No matter our race, ethnicity, identity, abilities, religion or class. There truly is room at the table for everyone, but if we continue to gate-keep based on what we think we know and not what actually is, we will continue to hinder progress and liberation that would benefit everyone who needs it.


 

This Week on the Podcast: Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. - Malynda Hale

Malynda Hale, mom, activist, singer, author and actress, is our guest this week. Malynda uses her voice through her music and social media presence as an educating activist to effect change within social justice, female empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, Antisemitism and Progressive Christianity.

On this podcast episode, we dive deep into lots of that, but we also spend our time hashing out how to truly love ourselves and those around us, especially our kids. "It doesn't have to be complicated" was a theme that came up over and over again, something that felt like a balm to our over-busy and way-over-complicated lives. We spent time chatting through these incredible questions:


  1. You are what you call a "progressive Christian. How would you define progressive christianity for yourself?

  2. You use your platform to fight for the things that are important to you, which we really respect and love. What social justice issues do you feel aren’t getting the attention they deserve in the Church?

  3. Your quote, "promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate," is powerful, and something that we strive for in our approach to deconstruction. How do you apply this to your life and why does it feel important to you?

  4. We talk a lot about how our own journeys shift the ways that we relate to our kids. How does your work as an activist and artist spill over into your parenting? 

  5. Picture yourself sitting at your dinner table with your daughter. What would be your overarching message to her about God, faith and herself?

Our favorite words from this podcast episode were things like "normal" and "change" and "love" and "simple." Find out why when you listen.

You can find Malynda at the following:


Website:  malyndahale.com


Instagram:  @malyndahale


Threads:  @malyndahale


P.S. There is one passion project that Malynda speaks about on the podcast that we want to highlight this week. You can find that one below (and all the rest at her website).



 







 

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R.O.C ERA is a non profit organization that was founded with the hope to make the impossible, possible by serving our underprivileged children in black and brown communities.


They provide mentoring programs that curate experiences and expose them to programming that is not traditionally available to youth in impoverished communities. Programs that consist of visual and performing arts, fitness, nutrition, social and emotional skills.




 

Can't wait until Tuesday and need just a little snippet from our podcast episode that's coming up on Tuesday, May 7, with Malynda Hale.


 

One last thing. We want to remind you that we are so glad you are here. We wouldn't be the same without you. You will always find GRACE for where you've been and who you are now, and SPACE for who you are becoming and will be.


Carry on, our new-found friends. Welcome to the twisty-windy, full -of-adventure faith path that's laid out before us all. Love,

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