Thoughts on diversity, equity, justice and a citywide book club

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The team at the Greater Columbus Arts Council is ending the year by joining Let’s Talk About Race: One Book, One Community, a citywide book club, to read STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

When I first heard about this initiative, I immediately ordered books for our staff and board of trustees so that we could join in. This reading dovetails nicely into the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work that the Arts Council is engaged in.

Like many organizations, the Arts Council has been taking a hard look at our institution and evaluating our practices as they relate to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.

In some ways this work began, organically, several years ago; however it became increasingly important that we become more strategic, purposeful and accountable in our efforts—and in our understanding of what that work is. To this end the Arts Council formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee within our board, incorporated DEI work into our strategic plan, worked with staff to set goals for each department, and developed the Arts Council’s first official Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement. We will be reporting our progress to our board and community and will be accountable to our stakeholders as we move forward.

Some of these goals are about education—taking a deeper dive into understanding equality vs. equity vs. justice and how our work can move us towards the goal of social justice. Simultaneously we have action oriented goals to take what we learn and incorporate that into how we realize our mission.

I expect our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work to be a daily practice and that the actions we take will evolve as we evolve. Today part of that practice is this book, STAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You; and the community conversation around it. I work with people who love a good book and embrace any opportunity to learn and grow, so I anticipate some quality discussion in our weekly staff meetings. I hope you will join us in reading the book and check out the community discussion events planned starting Dec. 9 at Columbuslibrary.org/one-book.

— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.