Today we have to be extra cautious when diving into the deep waters of the diversity ocean. In earlier years we did not have to worry about getting “canceled” or the “woke police”, because everyone thought things were easier and finite… male, female, black, white, other. But in reality, the people pushed to the margins—the gender and sexual diversity community, the People of Color, the differently-abled, the socioeconomically disadvantaged, the marginalized—were always there. The sad fact is no one paid attention to them. The marginalization of people considered “other” is a deep scar we all share and it is a result of centuries of systemic inequities put in place by the dominant majority in power. Systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and practices designed to ensure the oppression of others have caused us all to have a skewed and unfair perspective on not only our sisters, brothers, and siblings, but also on ourselves.
We are all part of one race, the human race, a single family composed of billions of people.
Let's consider all people as single drops of water; each drop is a microcosm of diverse dimensions ultimately encapsulating each of our personal identities. Each drop combined creates creeks, rivers, and oceans all of which are connected. We are made up of the same basic chemistry but we all possess unique compositions that make us who we are. We have been set up to believe certain dimensions of diversity have a specific value and that is how we determine a person's place in society. This practice, of course, is manmade and flawed at an atomic level.
The hierarchy of our value system has been decided by unfair laws and traditions, and as a direct result, we have become ensnared in a cycle of biased and bigoted behaviors. Instead of questioning these behaviors and actions many of us become defensive and rigid in our methods of navigating these waters. We no longer see our siblings as people but as objects or obstacles.
As the people who were forced to the margins begin to fight their way back in, the instinct is to push back and defend ourselves and “our territory”. This behavior is not only wrong, it is devastating to our path back to reconnection and a return to our humanity. We cannot heal our divides without evolving and educating ourselves on what led to these divides in the first place. Bringing people back in from the margins and making space for everyone begins with a single interaction, a single moment where we choose grace above all else. Then another single moment. And another. We must continue to make space and dismantle the practices and obstacles put in place to divide us.
Many consider this “allyship”, a badge one slaps on their chest as a way of declaring “I’m not racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic/transphobic/etc...” Allyship is not a name you give yourself. In fact, it’s not a name at all but a practice. Allyship requires constant conscious growth and movement and is never a fixed “reward” for something. People who claim allyship are ironically claiming the opposite, true allyship does not require a pat on the back or a gold star. You are considered an ally by those who need active allyship—the marginalized. If we aspire to become allies we must be willing to make mistakes, to fail and admit it, to grow, to educate ourselves, and to do better. We must engage in the difficult conversations and learn how to do better from the people whom our actions affect.
If we can use these moments as an opportunity for grace and education instead of seeing the moments as an attack, then we can begin to heal our fractured society. Choose grace, always. Educate yourself on the multifaceted world of what makes us all diverse and uniquely beautiful. Make space to bring our siblings back in from the margins and reconnect our family.