Diversity events instill advocacy elements

Arpan Yagnik and Arpan Yagnik

Lately, I have observed that there is an increased fervor and frequency towards the planning of events celebrating diversity and endorsing inclusivity.

In spite of this being a positive indicator, I feel the essential element of advocacy is, somehow, missing from the equation.

Let me make it clear that I by no means am discrediting the celebratory diversity events.

All I am arguing is the element of advocacy should be more central to these events as compared to being tangential or coincidental.

The issue of discrimination and intolerance usually affects those individuals and communities that lack the agency to stand up for themselves against dominant forces.

I feel that through celebratory diversity events we have successfully managed to gather support and supporters.

Although this support is essential, I firmly believe that advocacy and advocates are what are required to take this struggle to the next level. I say this because groups of supporters do not have the training and background for effectively planning and implementing organized attempts to amend public policy, and bring about systemic reformation in favor of the marginalized individuals or communities. They are essentially under-equipped to stand up against the dominant forces for sustained periods of time and beat them in their own game.

Another issue that I see with the notion of celebratory events is that every time a celebratory event is organized, countless resources are being utilized.

If we account for all the resources utilized in celebratory events over a course of time and weigh them against the benefits to the marginalized individuals and communities, I am positive that I would be skeptical to look forward to the outcome.

Shows of support are not targeted to changing policy or resource distribution.

I suggest that every event must be planned around a particular local, national, global discrimination- and intolerance-related issue.

Emphasis in these events should be focused on the emergence of action items. A group of individuals that is deeply interested in the change should gather to implement those action items.

They can collaborate with other advocacy groups doing similar work. By doing so they not only get appropriate guidance, but also the training to transition from being a supporter to an advocate.

Hence, I suggest that advocacy be made more central when planning events celebrating diversity.

My firm belief is that, by including and increasing advocacy efforts in as many celebratory diversity events as possible, we can transition from being supporters to being advocates.

Advocacy campaigns are, in my humble opinion, better options for ensuring that the pro-diversity and pro-inclusion changes are realized.

It is high time we put issues of discrimination and inequality behind us and focus our efforts and resources on other pressing and formidable issues.

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