On Briggs v. Elliott, Redlining, and Reparations

“I chose writing because people had to see and absorb my words before judging my body. I wanted to see myself represented and be seen as myself. But I was quietly and consistently asked to carve myself into pieces so that my wholeness would not be a distraction from my talent. And, let me be clear, I am talented.” — Imani, on growing up Black and disabled

2020 Survey on LGBTQ Youth

The Story

The Trevor Project surveyed 40,000 LGBTQ youth for its 2020 mental health report. Forty-six percent of respondents said they were unable to access resources like counseling and therapy. They cited cost and concerns about parental permission as their main barriers. What makes this statistic even more concerning is that 40% of all respondents and 50% of transgender and nonbinary respondents “seriously considered attempting suicide” in the past year.

Our Take

The survey also shows that affirming adults play a crucial role in LGBTQ youth mental health. The Trevor Project concludes that the two most powerful tools in supporting LGBTQ youth may seem obvious and yet are in short supply: acceptance and validation. One way to validate LGBTQ youth is to use accurate terminology when speaking and referring to them.

A non-binary student getting a book out of their locker

How It Affects You

Leaders from The Trevor Project emphasize the need for an intersectional—rather than a one-size-fits-all—approach to suicide prevention. That means investing in research and data collection that helps ensure mental health resources meet the unique needs of all your employees or students. To start: Strive to make your mental health resources accessible both in terms of cost and anonymity.

Briggs v. Elliott

The Story

Writer Michael Harriot argues that the case for reparations should account not only for the “sweat equity” of slavery but for discriminatory policies that took wealth from Black people and reserved it for white people. One example he cites is the case of Briggs v. Elliott. Black families in 1940s South Carolina paid the same taxes as white families but did not have access to the same county services. Black students were left to trek through sometimes dangerous rural terrain to get to school while white students had access to taxpayer-funded school buses. When Black parents asked for a single school bus, the county superintendent said no. Harriot calls this case a “microcosm” of what was happening across the United States.

Our Take

Harriot goes on to break down the similar effects redlining has on Black communities. Because the government and then banks marked all majority-Black neighborhoods as “risky” starting in the 1930s, home values in those areas fell and remained low. Harriot writes, “Nearly every calculable effect of institutional inequality can be traced back to this 85-year-old government policy.” For one, it continues to systematically drain school funding from Black neighborhoods.

How It Affects You

As the movement for Black lives has shown us in recent months, understanding the present-day impact of systemic racism is critical to fostering a diverse, inclusive, and equitable school or workplace community. Without this context, decision-makers are bound to engage in policies and practices that maintain systemic inequities.

Disabled Online Activists

The Story

Disabled activists, who may be unable to participate in physical protests, have utilized social media to support various causes. Online activism has allowed disabled people to communicate how often their needs are ignored in the workplace. Disabled online activists have also used social media to increase the visibility of disabled people in media and politics by using hashtags, such as #CripTheVote.

Disabled businesswoman shaking hands in workplace setting

Recently, disabled activists have brought attention to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the lives of disabled people. Prior to COVID-19, many disabled people were denied the ability to work remotely by their schools and workplaces. Due to the pandemic, these same institutions have now shifted to remote work.

Our Take

The needs of disabled people are often ignored in the workplace, in schools, and on campus. The internet is an invaluable resource for disabled people to participate in advocacy efforts and make their voices heard. Remote work and learning options ensure accessibility for many disabled people. COVID-19 has revealed how institutions can increase accessibility by providing more remote work options for students and employees.

How It Affects You

College campuses, workplaces, and disability allies should listen to the needs of disabled people and provide accommodations as needed. Institutions may resist providing accommodations, such as remote work. However, COVID-19 has demonstrated how it is possible and necessary for institutions to be flexible to the needs of all students and employees.

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briggs v elliott
disabled activists
lgbtq youth
non-binary
people with disabilities
redlining
reparations

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