Evaluation 2022 Equity Working Group Week: Reflections on the (Re)imagining Equity, Social Justice and Decolonization Town Hall by Libby Smith, Ayesha Boyce, Stephen Porter, Dana Wanzer, Gabriela Garcia, Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro, and Aisha Rios

Greetings evaluation community! We are Libby Smith, Stephen Porter, Ayesha Boyce, Gabriela Garcia, Elizabeth Taylor-Schiro, Dana Wanzer, and Aisha Rios, members of the Evaluation 2022 Equity working group. Over this past week of posts you’ve heard from some of the most exciting voices in evaluation as they reflected on equity, decolonization, and liberation in and through evaluation. 

Screenshot of the panelists on Zoom

Our writers, dr. monique liston, Dr. Zuri Tau, Dr. Chera Reid, Dr. Albertina Lopez, Carlos Romero, and Dr. Laura Peck, came together as panelists in a Town Hall held on Thursday, September 29 to discuss their responses and how this conversation is impacting the field of evaluation. The conversation was engaging and filled with moments that had audience members applauding in the chat and echoing “damn, that is so true!” 

The conversation was filled with dozens of “ah ha” moments for panelists and audience members alike.  We wanted to share a few key moments with you and encourage you to watch the full conversation.

Three quotes reflecting on the (re)imagining equity, social justice, and decolonization town hall
Two quotes reflecting on the (re)imagining equity, social justice, and decolonization town hall

Audience members were encouraged to reflect on how equity, decolonization and liberation were showing up in their work and how they drive change and reshape evaluation. Through the use of Padlet, audience members were able to share their reflections. We were truly awed by the level of engagement and depth of responses. Members of the #Eval22 Equity Working Group will be reviewing comments for themes that will be carried into our Presidential strand session “To Equity and Beyond: What Evaluation Needs Right Now” with dr. monique liston and Dr. Zuri Tau. 

We observed the following themes during the town hall discussion: (i) we’re working through it; (ii) we’re challenging the powers that be; (iii) it’s complicated.

We’re working through it

Attendees reflected on the challenges faced with  bringing equity into their evaluation work. This was reflected in comments that highlighted inertia in their setting and the challenge  of demonstrating more equitable practice in one area (serving people with blindness/low vision) while still figuring out other dimensions (race/ethnicity, gender, identity). It was highlighted how clients increasingly show interest in equity but many still see it as a box to check.

We’re challenging the powers that be

A group of responses to the questions and comments reflected the ways some challenged power. An emphasis was placed on always being genuine; attending to, advocating for, issues of equity in work and personal life. Responses involved questioning what counts as expertise, recognizing whose voices and narratives have power, and working to shift the balance and lens of how information is gathered and understood. 

It’s complicated

There was an acknowledgement that engaging in this work involves tensions. The nature of the problems we face demand urgency, but moving with urgency and ignoring relationship building is a white supremacist framework. Further, these concepts are often misused, with a number of contributors highlighting the pervasive use of “decolonization”, as one contributor put it “I am very reluctant to use that term in a loose, metaphorical way. I feel that its usage should probably be guided by the people who have literally experienced being colonized.”

Hot Tips

  • The Town Hall recording will be available for members to watch. You’ll find it here soon. 
  • The conversation continues! Add the Presidential Strand session “To Equity and Beyond: What Evaluation Needs Right Now” with Dr.  Zuri Tau and dr. monique liston to your #Eval22 agenda. The Thursday, November 10th session is at 2:15pmET and will be included in the Digital Registration option as well!
  • Learn more about our panelists in this Town Hall handout that includes links to their aea365 posts. 
  • Brandon Black, a graphic recording artist, joined the Town Hall to capture the conversation. His work will be featured in the presidential strand session as well.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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