The Gazette is Iowa’s independent, employee-owned source for local, state, and national news coverage.
Nichole Shaw is a 2021-2022 editorial fellow for The Gazette. She writes two columns a month, facilitating her keen interest in issues of social and racial justice, particularly as it concerns diversity, equity and inclusion in the state of Iowa.
Discover select highlights from her contributions to the paper below or find the all of her columns here.
What’s really spooky? From redistricting, voter disenfranchisement, the lack of women’s rights to their own bodies, racial bias and more, there’s quite a list to pick from in Iowa, like many other states. But what stands out is something that goes unsaid, accepted as tradition and seldom fought against with fruition — it is the stagnation of change (an oxymoron, but true).
Change is necessary for society to evolve and the people within it to grow as human beings, to become better. But change comes from real people — not government entities and corporations. Those are merely signals of change that have already occurred.
Diversity, equity and inclusion have become common buzzwords in job applications over the past year and a half. That mainly has to do with a public outcry for better, more equitable practices and policies from employers to foster accountability. For employers, that looks like not only obtaining, but retaining a workforce which reflects the makeup of their surrounding environment and community. While people often think of race and gender in relation to DEI efforts, the scope of accountability expands much further beyond those demographics. Disability awareness remains a mystery that is seldom approached or acknowledged in these discussions for fair and equal treatment in the workplace.
Greek life is resistant to reform, deeply devoted to archaic and harmful practices because they are “tradition.” However, calls to abolish all of Greek life take away from those institutions that popped up as a result of exclusionary racist, sexist and homophobic practices…
So, when you say “Abolish All Greek life,” think about those institutions that historically provided people who experienced life-threatening discrimination with a safe space for success. Perhaps the way forward is not by abolishing a broken system but reforming it, starting with the upheaval of archaic rules and traditions that put women and people of color at risk.
Black-white biracial individuals are discriminated against by both whites and “dark-skinned” Blacks. To some, we are Black, and therefore still belong to that group of “lazy coons” that have existed since 1865. To others, we are privileged and don’t understand the true effects of racism, referring to us as “high yellows” or “redbones” (Huffington Post).
Despite the consistent media coverage and available resources, medicine and technology available to protect Iowans and Americans at large, members of the public — about half of the population in Iowa — have still not gotten vaccinated, refusing to not only protect themselves, but also to protect others from infection and the very real possibility of death.
To succumb to the crippling pressure of white institutions and placate white sensibilities for the comfort of the privileged and the discomfort of the marginalized would be harmful to the entire future of media and would limit the narratives that get told to influence the people of America.
The past year, we’ve been in the thick of an intense culture war rife with identity politics. Perhaps the way that Iowans can honor July 4 this year is by reflecting on what it truly means to be an American, to unpack what independence from tyranny and oppression really is, and apply it to their life and policy moving forward.
This year has been identified as the worst year in recent history for legislative attacks against LGBTQ+ identifying individuals and groups at the state level, with 17 anti-LGBTQ+ bills enacted into law, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Reports from the ACLU and CNN corroborate this statement, too. And 2021 is not even halfway done.
Iowa Nice. It’s the slogan for the state, a marker of the camaraderie and neighborly kindness that supposedly permeates the region…It’s a cultural label of the Hawkeye state based on the perceived stereotypical behaviors of agreeableness and friendliness, similar to that of Southern hospitality…While the sentiment is nice, and there are plenty of people in Iowa that are nice, the label is a superficial one that does not actually reflect the true conditions of the state.