A virtual discussion in mid-June on the uneven impact of COVID-19 on people of color in neighborhoods surrounding Weavers Way has become a springboard for follow-up efforts by the Co-op’s Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to educate shoppers and increase the diversity of shoppers in areas served by the Co-op.
In all, 53 members logged on to the June 18 Zoom call. The ongoing protests against police brutality in Philadelphia and throughout the world clearly were on the participants’ minds. Many expressed the desire to work in their communities to advance racial justice and to see the Co-op take a leadership role.
The Racial DEI Committee has created specific definitions for the terms that make up the committee’s name, as illustrated in a document they recently shared. While, for their purposes, diversity still means “The ways people differ, both in ways that can and cannot be seen”, the group distinguishes equality from equity, noting that getting to equity “may require giving different treatment to different people to ensure everyone has what they need.”
The document also makes a distinction between integration and inclusion, defining integration as “Bringing people together in a way that doesn’t make everyone feel they are truly wanted or welcomed; maybe because people were forced together by a law or policy.” In contrast, it defines inclusion as “A sense of belonging and being a full member of a community with access to all privileges and experiences in the community.”
The committee’s document notes that while a business or department can use equality to deliver fairness, “the business outgrows this strategy as it becomes more diverse.” It also contends that “A focus on diversity without inclusion can lead to people having different experiences at work and in our stores due to who they are and what they look like.”
Racial DEI hopes to educate and broaden its reach with the launch of a podcast from the Co-op, hosted by Board of Directors member De’Janiera Little. Potential content includes relevant news, events or topics directly related to Racial DEI, a history of the Co-op, local food issues, questions for the general manager, and more.
In addition, Racial DEI is looking to combine its efforts with other Co-op committees, including Food Justice, Environment, and the New Economy Incubator, to set up Zoom workshops and/or work on other projects.
This fall, Racial DEI plans to conduct a survey of shoppers and/or members the old-fashioned way — by standing outside the stores and asking them questions. They hope that the data from the survey will give the group a baseline, and over time, lead to an increase in the racial diversity of co-op shoppers and members who live in the neighborhoods where the stores are located.
If you want to attend future Zoom meetings, get information about our podcast, or find out what other committees are doing, go to the Co-op’s website: