A hand-trembling post I’ve wanted to write for over a year that decided needed to come out today.
When we talk about diversity and inclusion we also need to talk about the intersections of a myriad of issues including, but not limited to: race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, culture, class, belief, religion, mental and physical health and mobility.
We cannot reduce people or make assumptions about their lived reality based on appearances. This stuff is complex. It can’t not be.
This is what intersectionality is: a web.
We live in a relational world where our experiences are not the only valid ways to be.
Listen, stop to breathe, listen some more.
Let go of villain, victim, and hero stories (so f*ing hard and so necessary).
Find a way to show real compassion and forgiveness for both yourself and others.
No one is perfect and we can never know where someone is on their journey.
Many people live with severe mental health issues, for example, and you would simply never know. Many quietly lose their lives to publicly invisible addictions. Many are in recovery and you would never know.
When I look at my own life, for example, I have much earned and unearned power. I am white, educated, come from a middle-class family and live in a country that is mostly safe.
And I am a woman, a lesbian, I’m fat and live with depression and anxiety. All of which create barriers in my life.
I will also most likely live with C-PTSD for the rest of my life, and if affects me in ways most people would never know. I’ve acted out in terrible ways in relationships and now understand what it truly means to face one’s shadow and be human.
From this place I find a well of compassion that I must continually remember. It is also from this place of trauma that I have learned (and believe me I needed to learn it) to see the beauty in my everyday and to consciously choose to live with as much love as I possibly can.
I find myself so sensitive to wanting to do the “right” thing and listening to all the ways I’m not. I’m terrified I will be called a racist, for example. And the truth is, if you’re white you probably are. You know, hands up here.
As one of my mentors said on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we need to admit and acknowledge the truth of the deep roots of racism. It’s not easy to look at but the roots are so deep that it will take lifetimes to rewrite the terrible terrible reality that people of colour experience. I can never know what that is like but I’m listening.
And I also want to say, and this is a part that my hands tremble to write, but that I think it’s important to say: I‘ve been severely traumatized in activist communities. So much so, that for the sake of my mental health recovery, and my actual life, I needed to leave (and will most likely never return). This is terrifying for me to share but I can honestly say I wouldn’t be alive if I continued on the path I was on.
And hey, I’m totally cheering you on no matter what path you’re on. We need to address the effects that the patriarchy and racism are having in the world! It’s just I’m probably the one who makes the great tea and gives you a hug at the end of the day! We all play our part.
Please be kind. Kind to yourself. Kind to each other. Kind on the internet. Kind in real life. Your words and actions affect people more than you know.