Adding Faces At The Table

Jul 24, 2017

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Recently my wife attended a Social Justice camp at NIU as a representative of DeKalb School District 428.  She shared this quote from the camp on Social Media, and it has been resonating in my mind for the last month. While it’s an uncomfortable analogy, the vivid imagery it invokes is quite effective.

What I’ve learned in the last 10 years of community involvement is that excluding people from the table is a well-known and commonly used tactic. When certain voices and groups aren’t at the table to share their story or inject a different perspective, it becomes easier to put those who have been excluded on the menu. 

Diversity has become a frequently used buzz word. Webster’s dictionary defines diversity as: the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization. While it’s easier to include people of different backgrounds at the entry-level of organizations, we don’t achieve real diversity until it’s evident at the decision-making level. In my humble opinion, that’s the real task.

This becomes difficult, because it means relinquishing power. When power is shared or exchanged naturally, things start to look and feel different. 

As our community becomes more assorted, I challenge our important decision-making bodies to truly embrace diversity: our city government, the school district cabinet, our judicial system, DeKalb Police department, and the County Sheriff Department.  The decision-making leaders of these major governing bodies should reflect the people they have sworn to serve.

I’m Joe Mitchell, and this is my perspective.