Re: [Gendispatch] revised

Mallory Knodel <> Wed, 31 March 2021 15:03 UTC

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Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2021 11:02:53 -0400
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To: Tony Rutkowski <>, Dan Harkins <>, "Salz, Rich" <>, "" <>
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From: Mallory Knodel <>
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Subject: Re: [Gendispatch] revised
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Agree that nothing whatsoever should prevent IETF from addressing these 
issues urgently,


On 3/31/21 10:52 AM, Tony Rutkowski wrote:
> It is not clear why the focus here has avoided other fundamental 
> rights related to discriminatory behavior, e.g., xenophobism, 
> antisemitism, sexual orientation.  A rather full enumeration can be 
> found at
> It is relevant because the IETF and its participants are subject to 
> legal requirements relating to proactive (rather than passive) 
> mitigation of discriminatory, along with transparency and 
> anticompetitive behaviors.
> --tony r
> On 31-Mar-21 10:17 AM, Mallory Knodel wrote:
>> 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 better.
>> -Mallory
Mallory Knodel
CTO, Center for Democracy and Technology
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