By Caroline Gordon, Emily Rosenberg
Eddie Moore, an educator, discussed supremacy, anti-racism, and diversity as part of The Olivia A. Davidson Lecture Series by Arts and Ideas in collaboration with the Center of Inclusive Excellence Feb. 17 via Zoom.
Moore is an experienced educator who founded America & Moore LLC, an initiative to provide diversity, privilege, and leadership training and workshops.
He is also the director of the Privilege Institute and the National White Privilege Conference.
Before COVID-19, he traveled the country to give lectures.
He discussed how his transition from a primarily Black neighborhood in Florida to a small town in Iowa where he had to face discrimantion he never dealt with before, is an important part of his framework.
He said it prepared him for his work in social justice.
Moore said he “didn’t know how many white folks were in America until [he] got to Iowa.” To him, it was a major culture shock.
After this realization, he struggled for several years with a cocaine and crack addiction until a leader at Big Brother Big Sister helped him get back to graduate school.
Moore kicked off his presentation with some background on Black History Month and noted how 100 years ago it was just “Negro History Week.”
He also highlighted how the courage and boldness of Shirley Chisom, the [first woman to run for president, has paved the way for Vice President Kamala Harris.
“[Chisom] is truly one of my inspirations, I’m really glad I get to share her with you,” Moore said.
He then discussed the importance of intersectionality, the interconnected nature of social
categorizations, noting diversity is more than just Black people and white people.
Moore said, “No one should be allowed to say they are committed to diversity if when they say diversity, it’s not inclusive. White issues, Black issues, race issues are not the only problem when it comes to diversity.”
He said you need to have the skills to be open, and include everybody.
Moore emphasized his point by reintroducing himself with his pronouns as this practice is becoming common.
“America is changing,” he said.
Moore posed the question, “But are we changing?”
He said when you are “down with diversity” and people you know are also “down with diversity” you reach a level of higher expectations.
Moore said there are superficial examples of people who think they are encouraging inclusivity, such as knowing someone Black or taking a trip to Mexico.
He said we need to take a bigger kind of stand when it comes to anti-racist intitiatives by particitpating in skill building ourselves and encouraging others as well.
“If you’re in my circle, rolling with Dr. Eddy, you got to show evidence of your commitment,” Moore said.
He said he’s still trying to get the gender language down, but this is an example of how social constructs are always changing and we need to be onboard.
When he started his work in 1996, he said the definitions for diversity were vague – now it is “a lot more expansive.”
Moore said the work of diversity administrators is difficult.
He then simplified definitions related to diversity with a list of words such as BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color], LGBTQI, genderqueer, and Proud Boys.
“These are words that your grandparents had no clue about,” Moore said.
He added, “The term BIPOC is relatively brand new.”
Moore said social justice is about expanding and evolving as a society, but to remember that it takes work.
He said, “It has been proven by the American Medical Association that racism can kill you.”
Moore continued, “People are dying, and we still have some people who can’t even define it or agree on a definition. There’s some real work that individuals, but organizations even, need to do.”
He said without taking time to learn and understand “the little stuY” then you risk sounding
incompetent which can jeapordize your career.
“You put yourself ahead of the line by understanding cross cultural dynamics,” Moore said.
He said older people he knew when growing up didn’t know anything about Black people. This is what he referred to as “the luxury of innocence.”
He said we need to understand the difference between bias and unconscious bias.
“I learn the most hate in my most innocent state,” he said.
Moore said everybody has a bias and if someone says they treat everyone the same or “don’t see color,” research disagrees.
He said research in neuroscience shows the ages between 0-to-5 determines the way in which one sees the world.
Moore said that when it comes to issues with human rights, those years are especially crucial and if not taught properly, they can become “dangerous” to the development of the child.
He encouraged the audience by adding that if one didn’t learn correctly then, it doesn’t make one “bad for life.”
Moore said, “We all have work to do in our lifetimes.”
He touched upon how learning the difference between unconscious bias and conscious bias is deep work.
Moore discussed how he believes people just memorize unconscious bias and conscious bias.
He said he is not sure if they are actually doing the “deep work it takes” to understand the differences.
Moore shared his “I.D.E.A.S.” approach to eliminating racism.
He said “I” stands for intentional as you need to be completely and de[nitely moving in the direction of anti-racism.
“It needs to be a capital campaign where everybody participates,” Moore said.
He said “D” stands for declaration and that people need to proudly advocate for anti-racism.
“E” stands for evaluation and education.
“Being anti-racist is not a [nish line that you will cross. If you want to intentionally declare being anti-racist is the journey you want to take, you need to evaluate how far away you are,” Moore explained.
“A” stands for assessing – Moore said after you educate yourself you need to assess your progress.
“S” stands for support.
He said most people think they are more accepting of diversity than they truly are.
“Don’t claim you are anti-racist if you are not willing to do the work. Part of your journey includes coaches of support,” Moore said.
He gave the audience a QR code with access to a 21-day challenge he developed on how to take action.
“This is a tool to get you started. If you are in my circle and I ask you if you are down with diversity, you can refer to the 21-day action plan!” he said.
Moore added, “This plan allows you to do something every day.”
He recommended a list of books, encouraged the audience to attend conferences, and take care of mental health.
Moore closed by talking about the late John Lewis and his famous quote about “good trouble.”
“If I can inspire you to be anything, it’s to be good trouble. It’s to be necessary trouble. To be that voice when you see oppression, hatred, supremacy, and that you say something,” Moore said.