Re: [Gendispatch] revised

Mallory Knodel <> Wed, 31 March 2021 14:17 UTC

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Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2021 10:17:14 -0400
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To: Dan Harkins <>, "Salz, Rich" <>, "" <>
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From: Mallory Knodel <>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] revised
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On 3/31/21 9:35 AM, Dan Harkins wrote:
> On 3/31/21 6:10 AM, Mallory Knodel wrote:
>> On 2/23/21 10:12 AM, Salz, Rich wrote:
>>>>   There seems to be a desire to have the group focus
>>>      (first/primarily?) on race as the single axis in which to 
>>> discuss diversity
>>>      and inclusiveness, e.g. [1]-- and that would be very 
>>> divisive and
>>>      destructive.
>>> Why do you think it would be destructive, as opposed to a first step 
>>> because some think it is easier to handle?
>> This work hasn't been chartered to focus on race; we're focussing on 
>> racism. Racism is systemic social oppression, so it's within an 
>> institution like the IETF's remit to ameliorate these larger social 
>> ills as they play out within its community, eg as through initiatives 
>> like using inclusive language.
> Defining racism as "systemic social oppression" means 
> that certain groups
> (those who do not wield systemic power) cannot commit racism.

It's not my definition.

We're not concerned with who is doing the committing.

> Racism is actually the act of prejudice and antagonism against people 
> on the basis
> of their race.

That's discrimination and hate crimes, et al. Those are prohibited in 
the IETF by BCP 54.

There are relationships between all of these concepts, but it's 
important to be clear where TERM is focussed.

>   And while this is, indeed, a social ill it is not up to a technical 
> standards body like the IETF
> to ameliorate it. We have protocols to finish!

I said:

> it's within an institution like the IETF's remit to ameliorate these 
> larger social ills as they play out within its community, eg as 
> through initiatives like using inclusive language

>> We're not talking about individuals' racial identities.
>    You're talking about a group's racial identity. You treat 
> individuals as members of a
> group. I still maintain that is divisive and destructive and I don't 
> think it's a good path
> for anyone to go down, certainly not us.

Research and academic scholarship has shown that for diversity, equity 
and inclusion efforts to be effective that concrete actions have to be 
taken, beyond just a vague commitment to do better. That just makes us 
feel better temporarily without actually changing anything. The IETF is 
doing concrete things, and it's really great to see. One of the 
important elements is to _elevate_ identity because in an unequal and 
exclusive community, bias is _hidden_ identity discrimination.

No doubt this is divisive, though IME it's uniquely acute in the IETF. 
It might also be temporarily destructive (anti-racism is about 
destroying racism, after all). However, a strong and goal-oriented 
(protocols!) community like the IETF will certainly survive TERM for the 


Mallory Knodel
CTO, Center for Democracy and Technology
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