Maine Socialists to Scrap “Diversity Requirements” After Failing to Meet Leadership Identity Quotas

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(Source: Maine DSA 2023 Convention Packet)

The Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) will hold one of two annual meetings on Saturday and Sunday, and among the potential amendments to the organizations bylaws is a proposal to end “diversity requirements.”

The Maine DSA bylaws currently dictate that its leadership committee include “at least three non-cisgender men” and “at least one minority with respect to race, sexual orientation, and/or country of origin.”

But according to a document outlining the Maine DSA’s convention, the group has struggled to meet those diversity quotas, and that has led to some perverse outcomes that undermine the effectiveness of the organization.

“Our current diversity requirements have, at times, arguably led to members being asked to run for Steering mainly because of their identity, with little thought about whether or not they felt ready, or even wanted to,” the amendment proposal states.

The document doesn’t specify what particular problems have arisen from the party’s affirmative action policies.

Although the Maine DSA rules set diversity quotas for leadership positions, the document acknowledges that the organization has struggled to meet those quotas, presumably due to its overwhelmingly white, heterosexual, and cisgender composition.

“We have yet to fulfill diversity requirements,” the document states, “And should be sober enough to recognize that calling such standards “Requirements” is misleading, given that we operate with or without them being met.”

The proposed amendment to the bylaws would turn the “diversity requirements” into “diversity standards.”

In a separate amendment, the Maine DSA will vote on whether to further reform the diversity rules to address a glaring ableist blind spot in the policies.

The change will ensure the bylaws are not ableist — that is, prejudiced against people with disabilities — and will clarify which type of races and ethnicities they would ideally have on the steering committee.

According to this rule change, “non-cisgender-men” would be changed to “members who are not exclusively cisgender men,” a position would be added for at least one “person of color,” and another position would be dedicated to a “member with a marginalized identity with respect to sexual orientation, disability, and/or country of origin.”

On Sunday, attendees will also vote on several other proposals related to the chapter’s organization. At the top of the list is a proposal to refrain from endorsing local Portland election candidates and ballot referenda in 2023 in order to focus on building the strength of the organization.

But the Maine DSA convention won’t be all serious business and internal politics.

The socialists have also planned some activities, trainings, trainings, and group discussions for the convention.

On Saturday, after a breakfast social that will take place over Zoom, Maine socialists can sign up for “Stop the Bleed,” a training seminar on how activists can deal with traumatic injuries sustained in the course of tearing down capitalists structures of cisheteronormative oppression.

“Get together with trusted community safety volunteers and organizers to share skills, learn, and practice techniques to aid others who’ve received traumatic injuries,” the event description says.

After the pseudo-combat media training, the socialists will have an in-person discussion of Art & Capitalism, followed by a membership engagement workshop and a strategy session on prison reform, abortion, and housing issues at the state legislative level. The group also says it plans to further grow its Lenin-worshiping blog, Pine and Roses.

The meeting document also includes pitches from candidates who are aspiring for various leadership positions. The pitches lay out the serious accomplishments and grand visions of the contenders.

Amanda D., for example, is a soil ecologist and PhD student who wants to help Maine DSA by “whipping up infographics and images for the chapter’s Instagram.”

Will T., who said he was the Co-Chair of the 2022 Maine Public Power committee, said, if selected as Finance Co-Chair, he’ll promise “more fundraising” and “more graphs.”

Spencer B. says he deserves a co-chair position, in part, because he “successfully organized a pizza party in Saco.”

Jake G. says his goal for the party is to “teach new members basic Marxist political economy, political theory, and practical organizing skills.”

Ethan S. touts having served as the mayor of Portland and as a state senator.

You can read the document here:

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