Art Council flags “white privilege” in its ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ Toolkit

The Arts Council’s toolkit on equality, diversity, and inclusion features an interesting list of thought based misdemeanours and definitions of “white privilege” many of which are borrowed from American anti-racism advocacy groups. 

The Arts Council says the equality, diversity, and inclusion toolkit was produced with the aim of ‘building inclusive arts practices’ and as part of a “quest to achieve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the arts community” in Ireland. 

The document is intended to “support organisations in implementing positive policy measures to promote equality of opportunity, access and outcomes for all those living in Ireland regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, civil or family status, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community”, and makes reference to ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equal Status Acts 2000–2018. 

In the insert on “privilege” the document quotes from American racial justice organisation Race Forward describing privilege as, “A set of advantages systemically conferred on a particular person or group of people.”

It continues, “White people are racially privileged, even if they are economically underprivileged.”

It elaborates that, “Privilege and oppression go hand-in-hand: they are two sides of the same power relationship, and both sides of the equation must be understood and addressed.”

 “People can be disadvantaged by one identity and privileged by another.”, it says. 

The document also advocates for “anti-racism” which it categorises  as the work “of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life.”, and is “set up in opposition to individual racist behaviours and impacts.”

Hate Speech and Racist Hate Speech are defined with ‘hate speech’ covering “all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or attempt to justify any form of hatred, stereotyping or discrimination that is based on intolerance.”

 Racist ‘hate speech’ is said to include “intolerance of people based on their real or perceived ‘racial’, national, ethnic or cultural backgrounds, or their real or perceived religious identity.” 

While presenting the concept of ‘white privilege’ as undisputed reality, the document refers to race itself as, “A social construct that refers to something that does not have a basis in the natural world but is an artificial distinction created by humans. Race categories or designations have changed over time and continue to change.”

White privilege is defined as “The inherent advantages possessed by White people on the basis of their race in a society where racial inequality and injustice exists.” 

The definition of bias states that while people “often think of bias as intentional, i.e. someone wanted to say something racist”, “brain science has shown that people are often unaware of their bias, and the concept of implicit bias helps describe a lot of contemporary racist acts that may not be overt or intentional.”

“Institutions”, it says, “ are composed of individuals whose biases are replicated, and then produce systemic inequities. It is possible to interrupt implicit bias by adding steps to decision making processes that thoughtfully consider and address racial impacts.” 


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