Dr. Gebru, NAUWU, and DEI

Big news in DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion) circles is the firing of renowned ethicist Dr. Timnit Gebru by Google.

Read the entire email from Dr. Gebru for a taste of what DEI workers are up against. I’ll highlight this line:

Silencing marginalized voices like this is the opposite of the NAUWU principles which we discussed.

Source: The withering email that got an ethical AI researcher fired at Google – Platformer

I’m always glad to see NAUWU mentioned. NAUWU = “nothing about us without us”, a fundament of autism and disability advocacy as well as the participatory research and narrative medicine movements. Educators, healthcare workers, and tech workers must respect and implement NAUWU to do ethical work.

From a book I’m reading right now:

DisCrit empathizes with John Powell’s words, “I feel like I’ve been spoken for and I feel like I’ve been spoken about, but rarely do I feel like I’ve been spoken to” (cited in Dalton, 1987). A similar mantra in dis/ability rights circles, “Nothing about us, without us” (Charlton, 2000, p. 3), also speaks to this tenet. DisCrit, therefore, seeks to disrupt the tradition of ignoring the voices of traditionally marginalized groups and instead privileges insider voices (Matsuda, 1987).

Source: DisCrit-Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education (Disability, Culture, and Equity Series) (p. 21). Teachers College Press. Kindle Edition.

See also:

I first heard the expression “Nothing About Us Without Us” in South Africa in 1993. Michael Masutha and William Rowland, two leaders ofDisabled People South Africa, separately invoked the slo- gan, which they had heard used by someone from Eastern Europe at an international disability rights conference. The slogan’s power derives from its location of the source of many types of (disability) oppression and its simultaneous opposition to such oppression in the context of control and voice.

“Nothing About Us Without Us” resonates with the philosophy and history of the disability rights movement (DRM), a movement that has embarked on a belated mission parallel to other liberation movements. As Ed Roberts, one of the leading figures of the international DRM, has said, “If we have learned one thing from the civil rights movement in the U.S., it’s that when others speak for you, you lose” (Driedger 1989:28). In this sense, “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and “Power to the People” can be recognized as precedents for “Nothing About Us With- out Us.” The DRM’s demand for control is the essential theme that runs through all its work, regardless of political-economic or cultural differences. Control has universal appeal for DRM activists because the needs of people with disabilities and the potential for meeting these needs are everywhere conditioned by a dependency born of powerless- ness, poverty, degradation, and institutionalization. This dependency, saturated with paternalism, begins with the onset of disability and con- tinues until death. The condition of dependency is presently typical for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.

Source: NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US: Disability Oppression and Empowerment

6 thoughts on “Dr. Gebru, NAUWU, and DEI

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