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Re: Diversity statement for the Debian Project

MJ Ray <mjr@phonecoop.coop> writes:

> 2. the continuing existance of the Debian Women mailing list illustrates
> one way the whole-project level still does not honour diversity and
> creates special spaces for some groups but not others.

I just can't let this stand.

Color-blindness is a myth.  And gender-blindness is a myth.  Both of them
are destructive myths that are used to cover up inequities by refusing to
talk about them on the grounds that we should instead be blind to the
ongoing problems, making both terms rather apt.

Difference-blind policies only work to sustain an environment that already
has no discrimination and absolute diversity.  That world of magical
unicorns does not exist.  It is certainly not the world we live in.  And
difference-blind policies applied to the actual, imperfect world we have
destroy diversity rather than create it, because they perpetuate the
status quo and destroy the ability to talk about the ways in which the
world is not made of magical unicorns.  The majority group always thinks
that it is welcoming, and uses the difference-blind policy to shout down
minority groups whenever they disagree.

Creating safe space for groups who may otherwise be marginalized is one of
the key steps in diversity, and is vital to creating a more diverse
environment in the larger project.  You CANNOT jump directly from "women
are only 5% of the participants and are not welcomed" to "we ignore gender
and everyone contributes in the same spaces in the same way."  It flatly
doesn't work.  *Humans* don't work that way.  You need support networks,
support groups, safe spaces, and other techniques to *build* diversity and
change the culture incrementally, not simply wish it into existence.

We are a very long way from being in a place where difference supposedly
unrelated to the goal of the community can be ignored completely, if it's
even possible for humans to *ever* reach such a place.

The first step in being diverse is being *aware*.  You cannot be aware
when you're blind.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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