Join us this week for an exploration of what the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office does (and doesn’t do!) as we speak to several past and present officers for DEI from around the Known World. You’ll learn about the original vision for the office, what DEI looks like in different kingdoms (as well as different levels) and how recent events and the pandemic reshaped plans and framed the current landscape. Questions are welcome through the Facebook Live!
Maestra Giada Alberti THL Sabine Crespelle Baroness Zahra Tesfaye Duchess Sha’ya Kjartanskona THL Aenor de Pessac Mewadi Margavati Bai, OL
SCA Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Wednesday, 10/14, 5pm PDT/6pm MDT/7pm CDT/8pm EDT/12am (Th 10/15) GMT firstname.lastname@example.org
This panel will be streamed through Facebook Live to the SCA Diversity Equity and Inclusion page. A link will be provided in this event on the day of, as well. The streamed version will remain accessible on this page for future viewing.
Panel/interview disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by panel/interview participants are their current opinions and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SCA Inc.
Zoom participant disclaimer: Please note that, by participating, you are agreeing to be recorded and granting permission to have the video posted to SCA Social Media Channels. #MySCA#InclusiveExcellence
As the modern world celebrates Pride month in June, and July marks the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Gazette presents an interview with our Kingdom Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. The DEI Office is new (read more here), and we thank Mistress Gytha for her service and her time.
Welcome! Tell us about yourself.
I am Mistress Gytha Oggsdottir. I am a Pelican and a White Scarf. I have been an active member in the SCA in Æthelmearc for over 15 years. I have been involved in the heavy, fencing, cut & thrust, thrown weapons, and youth fencing/fighting communities. I am the Kingdom Silent Herald and the new Kingdom DEI Officer.
Outside of the SCA, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist. Currently I work as a care manager for families in poverty with children who have mental illnesses. I have three kids, each with their own special needs from chronic migraines to autism/ADHD to being queer and trans.
What is a DEI Officer exactly? What do you do?
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office is committed to promoting the values of inclusion throughout the SCA. Through education, training, and policy review, the DEI Officer will facilitate the necessary conversations and decision making that can lead to a more equitable and inclusive SCA. I will be offering training at events like Æcademy, but I am also available to offer training for baronies, shires, and groups. Also, people can personally reach out to me for assistance.
Our Kingdom seems to be LGBTQ friendly. Are there any areas there we can improve on?
Language is a huge aspect of inclusion, such as using gender-neutral terms like “consort” and “noble.” When addressing the populace as Lord and Ladies, make sure to include the term Nobles. In reality, you can just use Nobles and not use Lord and Ladies at all. Ask pronouns! (Garb does NOT give you clues to which pronoun to use.) This is especially important in the SCA where someone’s persona pronoun might be different than the one they use outside the SCA. Another way we can make events more inclusive is having gender-neutral bathrooms and changing rooms. Also, provide menstrual products in ALL bathrooms.
The SCA in general seems to be welcoming to people of color, but looking around at Pennsic, it doesn’t seem like we’re very diverse in that area. Can you recommend strategies to recruit and retain more people of color?
This is a tough question to answer. There are multiple strategies that might help. One is to look at our policies, which the SCA is currently doing. Encouraging people who are interested in expanding out of European personas to do so. Part of recruitment and retention in general is making sure we have Gold Key at every event and having DECENT loaner garb and armor. Have newcomers meetings/activities. Do demos at more diverse festivals/celebrations. There aren’t very many people of color at Scottish games.
Finding disability-friendly sites is a real challenge, especially since the buildings we often use can be older and not ADA compliant. Do you have any suggestions for types of places that are most likely to be accessible and also suitable for our events?
Another tough question. Start with buildings that are required to be ADA compliant, such as schools. But the big thing is no matter what site you use there are things you can do to make things better. COMMUNICATE – be very clear in any information that goes out what exactly accessibility issues might be. How far away are activities from each other? And if there is an elevator, how far is that from everything else? Where is check-in compared to the accessible entrance to the building? The more information before an event, the more they can plan on what they need. COMMUNICATE on the day of the event: clearly label, and provide tons of arrow signs! Before the event, go take a look at all the bathrooms: is there one where you can get a wheelchair in and close the door? Label it clearly so people can find it!
What are one or two (or more) things on your to-do list as the DEI Officer?
The two major ones I am currently working on are creating a Æthelmearc special harassment and bullying policy and creating a “best practices” for events stewards to make events more inclusive.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know, about you or the new DEI officership?
I am not the harassment and bullying police, but I can give you advice on how to deal with situations and am more than willing to mediate conversations. I have a ton of training ideas floating around in my head that I would love to do, so please contact me about a topic!
Are there other ways that we (seneschals, event stewards, the general populace) can help?
When looking at sites for events or practices, when putting out a missive on email or social media, when speaking to a group of people… take a moment and ask yourself: Is there a way I can make this more inclusive?
Part of the duties of the DEI office is to review and update policy, therefore I am doing a call out for people who would be interested in being part of a working group to write an Æthelmearc-specific policy around Bullying and Harassment.
Once the working group creates a draft that is approved by the Seneschal’s office then the policy would be sent out to the populace for review and comments before being finalized. If you are interested in being part of this working group, please contact me at email@example.com
In Service to the Dream,
Mistress Gytha Oggsodottir
Kingdom of Æthelmearc’s DEI officer
I am Mistress Gytha Oggsdottir, the Kingdom Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. A big part of my job description is education. Today, let’s talk about implicit bias.
We are raised with certain messages being taught to us by our family, neighbors, and cultures. These messages and beliefs run so deep, to the level where they are just “how things are”, where you might not even know they are there. And they happen to all of us as we grow up. Do these implicit biases make you actively racist, transphobic, homphobic, or ableist? Nope. That’s the thing with implicit biases you can have them and be unconscious of them. You might truly believe that you are not prejudiced, and you can believe in equality for everyone and still show small behaviors that are coming from these hidden, implicit biases. People can consider themselves anti-discrimination and still have old learned hidden biases.
Having these implicit biases does not mean that one is a bad person. However, if one wants to work on them and not cause harm to others, it means that they have to constantly look at and work on behaviors that come from this place, whether those behaviors are conscious or unconscious. Right now, in our Kingdom, country, and world, there are deep emotions and many people are really looking at biases (hiddden and open) and discrimination. It is a thing which is desperately needed.
We all have implicit bias, but this is a thing that we can work on, and a place we can better ourselves. I want to stress that education is how we work on these, within ourselves and for others. We all need to explore inside ourselves for stereotypes, prejudices, discrimination, and help educate others as well.
If you see others showing some of these manifestations of implicit bias, look at them as a whole person, and what you know about them. Then help to educate them, or point them to a place to educate themselves. This is how we will strengthen our society and become what we strive to become, by bettering ourselves and helping others on their own path to the extent we are able. The SCA DEI website is a great jumping off place to learn about implicit bias – https://www.sca.org/dei-office/dei-resources/.