EMBER: Igniting a DEI Collective

 

 

“It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.” – Angela Davis

 

In December 2023, I participated in Ember, a three-day program created by the teams at MSM Global Consulting and True Change Associates.  Ember emerged as a sanctuary for DEI professionals amidst the relentless culture wars and backlash that continuously follow our work toward building more humanizing systems. Ember ignited a path forward for our participants and facilitators, reaffirming the importance of community, strategy, and self-care for DEI professionals.

Ember was born out of a conversation amongst the MSM Global and True Change in the spring of 2022. The teams identified the urgent need to unite DEI professionals in solidarity and the need for sanctuary amidst a storm of political backlash and a reality for many DEI professionals…that they were often alone in the work.

On the political front, states like Florida and Texas have targeted the DEI movement, with lawmakers proposing and passing laws that undermine efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. (1)

In fact, their efforts and propaganda are convincing millions of people that the goals of being inclusive, welcoming diversity, and creating greater opportunity and equity are actually discriminatory and have made universities “intolerant and narrow.” (2) They have passed laws banning the teaching of critical race theory in schools, restricting discussions on systemic racism, and prohibiting diversity training in workplaces. (3) These legislative assaults not only undermine decades of DEI work but also perpetuate systems of oppression and inequality.

As a DEI professional actively engaged in the field for over 20 years – and most often alone – I have witnessed firsthand the challenges posed by such assaults. The very essence of our work, rooted in dismantling systemic oppression and promoting inclusivity and belonging, is under siege. In the face of such adversity, Ember emerges as a guiding light, offering DEI professionals a community of support, strategies, and self-care practices essential for navigating these turbulent waters.

My participation in Ember provided me with invaluable insights and tools to confront the political backlash and sustain myself in this demanding, but rewarding, field. Through engagement in workshops, collaborative discussions, and peer support sessions, Ember fostered in me a sense of community that transcended geographical boundaries and the professional affiliations and industries my fellow participants represented. In the company of like-minded individuals, I found solace in our shared experiences, strength in solidarity, inspiration in collective resilience as well as a spirit of resistance against the forces of division.

As a facilitator, I had the privilege of contributing to the collective wisdom of the Ember community, sharing strategies and best practices honed through years of being in the trenches. However, it was in the role of a participant that I truly felt the transformative power of Ember. The program not only equipped me with practical strategies to overcome adversity, but it also centered on the idea of collective liberation as central to creating the future we envision.

Furthermore, in a field as demanding and emotionally taxing as DEI work, Ember emphasized the importance of self-care. As an individual who has experienced challenges to my own mental health and well-being, Ember made me feel seen, heard, and appreciated.

Ember serves as a testament to the resilience and determination of the DEI movement, reminding us of the profound impact of our work and the legacy we aspire to create. In the face of relentless opposition, we stand united, fueled by a shared commitment to justice, equity, and inclusion. As we navigate the storms ahead, we draw strength from knowing we are not alone.

Ember epitomizes the spirit of liberation, hope and determination that defines DEI movements. By fostering a community of support, equipping professionals with essential strategies, and prioritizing self-care and well-being, Ember empowers DEI professionals to rise above the many challenges and continue their vital work with unwavering resolve.

As we ignite change and pave the way for a more just and equitable future, let us do so with the knowledge that we are not alone in this work and that collectively, we can forge the communities of support to engage in this work in lasting and impactful ways for generations to come.

The next Ember program is taking place in Colorado in October 2024. Please consider hitting the pause button in your daily lives to set aside a few days to take part in a potentially transformative experience.

For more information about Ember 2024, please click here: 2024 – Ember: Igniting and Sustaining a Community of Equity Practitioners

 

Sources:

  1.     Anti-DEI Legislation Tracker | BestColleges
  2.     ‘America Is Under Attack’: Inside the Anti-D.E.I. Crusade – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
  3.     Map: The impact of anti-DEI legislation – ABC News (go.com)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *