Author: Alex Przychodzki
BIPOC: Black, Indigenous and people of color
According to Google Trends, the use of the term “BIPOC” began to spike in May 2020 during the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. By using this acronym, it creates solidarity among Black, Indigenous and People of Color.
Inclusion or exclusion?
It is important to not use “BIPOC” as an umbrella term, but rather as a starting point. Many issues are shared by Black, Indigenous and people of color but each issue needs to be treated at an individual level as well. One size does not fit all. By not recognizing the divergences, you are erasing the differences. Jonathan Rosa, a sociocultural and linguistic anthropologist at Stanford states that “A new label is not a solution in itself. It’s a strategy or a tool for framing a broader dialogue, a broader discussion, and for collective action that is taking place on multiple levels.”
Where is this term being used in the workplace?
BIPOC is a term used during hiring processes and practices. Companies are realizing that it is imperative that they diversify their workforce. In turn, anti-racism workshops and sensitivity training are also being implemented. Although these are positive initiatives, it is important to make sure that your company is not treating these as a surface level checklist exercise. It is also crucial that these workshops are done using the time and energy of the company, and not its employees. Stacie Graham, a diversity, equity and inclusion trainer states that “It’s wrong to assume that simply because someone identifies as BIPOC they are interested or qualified in doing equity, diversity and inclusion work. They may experience shame or resentment in this case.”
Going the extra step
It is important to talk to employees not only about their career goals, but also personal ones. Check in with BIPOC employees and ask what other support, resources and opportunities can be offered. It is also crucial to self reflect; recognizing your privilege, evaluating your education on the subject matter and asking yourself if you are doing enough.