Chivalry, Equity, and Inclusion
Chivalry means protecting the vulnerable, refraining from wanton giving of offense, living by honor, fighting for the welfare of all, practicing fairness, and speaking the truth.
Equity means fair access to the same opportunities as everyone else. Inclusion means welcoming, valuing, and including.
Chivalry = equity and inclusion. The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA) as whole has accepted that our dream of chivalry is inextricably linked to the concepts and practice of equity and inclusion. In fact, we include these concepts in a list of SCA core values in Corpora (page 6).
There are those at every level of our club that support equity and inclusion. I see you.
You’ve given a large amount of support to the previous corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer. You’ve taken in person and online training courses developed by that officer. You’ve watched the dozens of videos they posted to the SCA DEI Facebook page. You’ve installed Kingdom DEI Officers in almost every kingdom and Baronial DEI Officers across the Known World. You’ve appointed DEI Councils as Crown and/or Kingdom Seneschal. You look for ways to be fair and welcoming as Baronet. You speak about inclusion in your peerage council meetings. You open discussions on gender minority fighter support. You’ve created lists of event stewarding best practices for accessibility of all types. You’re deliberate in your courtesy to and support of participants new or seasoned. You talk about bias and bystander intervention. You say something when you see poor conduct at our events. You gather with others to discuss how to be better leaders and participants in the SCA. This is the way.
The Issue & The Ask
In October 2020, in response to the DEI Open Letter, the SCA Board of Directors (BoD) affirmed its solidarity with the fight against systemic racism and rampant sexism. But some of the SCA’s subsequent actions have been inconsistent with that pledge:
- The SCA Board of Directors has allowed the position of corporate DEI officer to lapse.
- The SCA Board of Directors do not model equity and inclusion for the organization in their own training, practices, and procedures.
- The SCA has not adequately addressed disproportionately low numbers of racial minorities as participants, and has not investigated and/or resolved complaints of racial biases, racial discrimination, and racial microaggressions made by its gender minority participants.
- The SCA has not substantially addressed complaints of bias and discrimination among its historical martial arts community.
- The SCA does not track complaints of code of conduct violations, sexual harassment, or assault in order to protect its participants from harm.
The SCA has also been criticized by participants, affiliates, officers, and volunteers for biased leadership appointment practices and discriminatory procedures. Still, the SCA has declined to evaluate
- changes to the way regional leaders (Crowns) are chosen
- changes to the way members of the Board of Directors are chosen
To date, the SCA BoD does not have any strategic plan in place to systematically address the aforementioned, or any other deficits, or guide future actions to ensure the SCA is equitable and inclusive at all levels.
SCA, Inc has already recognized and codified the need for equity and inclusion as a priority in it’s corporate structure and governing documents, therefore I strongly urge organizational leadership (especially the corporate office and board of directors) to live up to that commitment:
- by filling the position of corporate DEI Officer for the SCA to guide equity and inclusion efforts, advise the Seneschalate and BoD, maintain momentum, and help protect the SCA from future litigation on this topic, and
- by developing a strategic plan to guide our organization into the foreseeable future.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
We have Census data and survey data to help understand challenges for the SCA and areas for improvement. Strategic planning increases operational efficiency, profitability, and durability. Board terms are not reigns and the SCA deserves continuity instead of one set of Directors doing things and the next set undoing them. Large scale changes like the creation of a DEI Officer needs support past the terms of those that wrote the job description.
In the meantime, we as participants and leaders in our respective SCA branches and kingdoms do not have to sit idly by and wait. In fact, you haven’t been sitting idly by and waiting. You have been standing up for true chivalry as enumerated at the onset of this post. This is an open letter to you.
Chivalry IS Equity and Inclusion
You are walking the walk. Keep going. You are not alone.
Voices of Color Season 2 Finale: DEI
Chivalry is Equity PDF
DEI Classes & Videos
BoD Approved DEI Officer Handbook of 2019 w/ Strategic Plan in Appendix B
DEI Open Letter of 2020
SCA Governing Documents
Chivalry is about protecting the vulnerable
2019 DEI Inquiry Questions – Maybe it’s time to do another!