DEI: There’s No Such Thing as ‘Over-indexing on Black’. Here’s Why.


There’s No Such Thing as ‘Over-indexing on Black’. Here’s Why.



Advancing equity is the active process of looking at the systems we have today through the lens of those most disadvantaged by those systems.

Amira Barger, Executive Vice President, Health DEI at Edelman

As a consultant in the field of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), more and more, I’ve been hearing the phrase, “We’re over-indexing on Black.” Each time I hear it I ask, “What specifically do you mean by that”? My question is an attempt to disrupt a person’s thinking, to create enough pause to give them pause. This is frequently followed by a flustered look as some poor soul scrambles to produce what they hope is a politically correct response.

Let me tell you one thing: the likelihood of you over-indexing on Black is dubious at best. Let me paint a picture for you.

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Several years ago, I sat with a panel at the Public Health Institute where I led business development and equity initiatives. It was in this meeting that I was introduced to a concept known as the “curb cut effect.” The curb cut effect is a phenomenon that was observed after small ramps were, quite literally, cut into the curbs of sidewalks at intersections to allow for better access for the disabled. What folks discovered was that the curb cuts had benefits beyond the scope of what was originally intended. Though specifically meant for wheelchair access, people riding bikes, using strollers, carrying luggage, etc. all benefited from the ramps. Nowadays, these ramps, once a novel feature, are simply the standard and are no longer even viewed in light of their original purpose.

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