Tokenism and “those other people”

Dear Mainstream Organizations,

This is a message to local and national organizations that have proudly reached “the mainstream”. You have become well known and highly regarded in “the mainstream”.

Now, let me give my definition of “mainstream”: predominantly white, predominantly middle-to-upper class, predominantly outward heterosexual, predominantly cisgender, predominantly relatively-able-bodied, and predominantly relatively-able-minded.

This means there’s a spectrum of unrepresented and under-represented groups.

You don’t think so? Because you see a sprinkle of “those other people” at a few events sometimes?

Okay, get over it. A sprinkle of “those other people” is tokenism.

If you did complete research that spans beyond the mainstream; and if you did local and national community programs that reached power minorities (I already know you don’t do this so don’t pretend): You would see a lot of evidence to realize most community members don’t even know that you exist locally and nationally.

I know..I know…you’ve allowed your tokens in your organizations and/or on your board of directors to do these community programs. Because, apparently, it is the job of these tokens to talk to “those other people” and to encourage “those other people” to learn about and participate in your organization.

If this is how you want to do things, don’t pretend to be clueless. Good luck to you and I sincerely apologize to “those other people” who will not be reached by your organization.


Did you even spare your privileges and busy schedule to read this far?

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