Perspective: Diversity issues, especially in agriculture, shouldn’t be partisan


People too often feel they need to pick one political side or the other. Yet topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion shouldn’t be partisan, especially among the farming community.

What something means to someone might mean something completely different to the next person. Themes like diversity, equity, and inclusion are words that embrace the unique qualities we all possess to exist harmoniously among one another.

Diversity refers to the celebration of life and the many ways it can exist. Equity recognizes that we do not all start from the same place and must make adjustments to imbalances. Inclusion means no one is left behind, so long as you’re not harming or patronizing anyone.

They all deal with respect and have nothing to do with political preference, but it doesn’t always feel that way. For many people, it feels like embracing such concepts is to embrace a specific political ideology or political party.

» Related: Agriculture and race: The complexities of rhetoric and reaction

Yet discussion and action related to diversity, equity and inclusion are often seen as partisan and don’t connect well with a lot of people. This is unfortunate, as such concepts should not be seen as partisan — they only aim to share real lived experiences of marginalized voices and promote respect and tolerance to people of different backgrounds.

I’ll emphasize again: Promoting respect and tolerance to people for the things they cannot control should not be political. It should be something everyone strives for regardless of their political beliefs.

Image by Christopher J. Rogers, Sr./RMWORKS, LLC

When people see terminology like “intersectionality,” “equity,” or “diversity,” they often associate them with left-leaning politics. This leads to these themes to be politicized and thereby viewed as divisively partisan. When this happens, people are less inclined to embrace such topics, which only furthers the problem.

In a world full of problematic issues like climate change or inflation, the existence and respect of minorities and their identities is not one of them. Minorities exist, that’s all there is to it. There shouldn’t be debates on the value and tolerance of their existence.

AGDAILY AFT DIversity in Agriculture

In order to make social progress, diversity and inclusion need to become normalized in society. If it continues to be portrayed and seen as political, diversity and inclusion will forever be sidelined. This will make it harder for marginalized people to be accepted and respected by all.

When a person of color points out that something is racist, or if an LGBTQ+ identifying person points out that something is homophobic and rude, they’re not trying to be political or even trying to convince people to rewire their entire belief system. They’re simply asking for that something to be acknowledged and worked on out of respect for others.

This is particularly important in the agricultural industry because just as the nation has become more diverse in recent decades, those working our fields and livestock are also becoming more diverse. And one day, our farmers and other agriculturalists are going to be far more diverse and intersectional than they are now. When that day comes, that farmer is going to be far more concerned about ag policy and what affects their farm than they will be on the practice of inclusion and equity.

» Related: What does equity in agriculture matter?

When it comes to partisan topics, people feel they need to pick one or the other depending on their social circle. Sometimes people think that by choosing to believe in equity and appreciate the value of diversity means they can only identify one certain way in terms of their political beliefs.

Part of the beauty of this nation is its people’s freedom of thought. Everyone is allowed to have their own political beliefs — it’s just a part of human nature. What is not not OK is to deny the existence and respect of the lived experiences and history of diverse people.

Saul Reyes serves as the 2022 American Farmland Trust Agriculture Communications Intern at AGDAILY, with a focus on helping to amplify diversity and minority voices in agriculture. An FFA alum, Reyes is a graduate of California State University-Chico and double majored in plant and soil science and multicultural and gender studies, while minoring in intersectional Chicanx/Latinx studies and public relations. He can be found on Twitter @sreyes710.

This article was published in partnership with American Farmland Trust.

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The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of AGDAILY.