Story of representation (or lack off)...
I have just finished reading Deepa Purushothaman's book, The First, the Few, the Only and it has been such a validation of what I have experienced. It has really helped me understand that I am not the only one facing the challenging effects of patriarchy, gender, race, and power. It also gave me tools on how to face these challenges and a playbook (of sorts) on how to address these challenges in the future. In addition, it helped me check my behaviour, my assumptions, understand my power and privilege, and think hard about what Women In Power will be.
The one thing the book did not touch enough on is tokenism. I think BIPOC individuals face tokenism everywhere. Sometimes we are a "checkbox" that can meet many criteria of gender, race, ethnicity, and language all at once. Recently, I was at a gathering of diverse individuals where facilitation was mostly by white individuals even though racialized individuals were part of the facilitation team. It was hard not to see the apparent tokenism where Indigenous people were only being used for songs and ceremonies. Other racialized individuals had minor roles to play whereas the major facilitation was led by white individuals. This could very well have been the game plan to begin with - and I don't know - but if that was the game plan, then there should have been communication and recognition of each individual's role on the team. By not doing so, we are only encouraging others to see them as tokens. A disservice to the intelligence of racialized facilitators as well as the attendees.
It is not hard for me to think back to times when I was tokenized and didn't even realize it. It's so easy to just go with the flow and only when someone else pointed out, did I realize oh yeah, I am being tokenized. And once you see it, you can't unsee it. I say, call out tokenization. Take a stand against it. Support your racialized peers, colleagues, friends. Get them their fair due and recognition at meetings, events, organizations. We are more than just tokens or checkboxes to meet diversity quotas!
So tell me, have you noticed anyone being tokenized? Have you been tokenized? Or seen your colleagues be tokenized? What action did you take? How did it make you feel?