by Pamela Metz and Regina Brink
Many of us were deeply disturbed when we saw the death of George Floyd captured on video and played for us, in graphic detail, over and over. However, some of us in the California Council of the Blind felt that could be our family member or one of us being unarmed and killed. Many of us felt the grievances expressed by the Black Lives Matter movement and other related groups were misunderstood by our nation and, subsequently, by the Council of the Blind. Black, indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and other diverse ethnic groups were coming forward to question how the California Council of the Blind was supporting these people with vision loss experiencing additional layers of bigotry. As members of CCB, there wasn’t a place for those of us of color to begin healing or increasing the understanding of our fellow CCB members. There also wasn’t a place for our white allies who were also visually impaired to work with us on these issues. These were the reasons our state president, Gabriel Griffith, appointed the Inclusive Diversity Committee of CCB.
Through several focus groups and intense conversations, it was decided to form a steering committee and begin the process of establishing an affiliate. Until then, the mission of the Inclusive Diversity Committee of California (IDC) is to promote and sustain an inclusive environment that truly values and embraces the diverse ethnic and cultural experiences and perspectives of the members of the California Council of the Blind. IDC will conduct discussions, workshops, and community calls designed to combat conscious and unconscious bias and bigotry, while promoting intercultural dialogue, awareness, and anti-racist tactics. We seek to include CCB as a whole, working with people from all backgrounds and ways of life with vision loss to enrich CCB by meeting the needs of marginalized groups within our organization. Increasing our diversity and our focus on issues surrounding racial and ethnic bias can only strengthen the California Council of the Blind, fostering our growth and relevance. It is our plan that any affiliate arising from this committee will carry on this mission.