The past few weeks have been eye-opening for me personally. I have put myself in rooms where I am not comfortable, rooms where at times, I have worried for my physical safety, rooms which I left with my heart quaking, arms and legs shaking.
The words I heard in these rooms rudely brought me to reality from the self-imposed cozy bubble I have lived in over the past twenty years. All the people I have met up until now have been nice. Nice in ways that in hindsight is hard to interpret. Does being polite mean nice? Does not saying anything in the face of obvious micro-aggression mean nice? Is silence nice? Does the right to privacy of thought constitute a blanket of niceness that people can cloak themselves with?
“I express nothing, therefore, I am absolved of everything.”
Is that a valid construct to live under?
Clearly, all I have are questions. Amongst the people who spoke up against diversity, equity and, inclusion in our local school board meeting, were some who spoke of American exceptionalism. They made impassioned pleas to teach American culture. I wonder what American culture is? I believed American culture was inclusion, I believed America was a melting pot of cultures, many different things amalgamating into something new and beautiful.
My notion of American culture seems to be very different from what some of these speakers were longing for. I trawled through social media to find out what these people did for a living, what informed their world views, and why they were so on the defensive about their identity as white Americans.
I found some did art for a living. They had family members who taught yoga, Ayurveda and, pranic healing. Some were married to people from other cultures.
I feel lost. I do not understand anything anymore. Isn’t the very appropriation of a foreign culture and making a living out of it a case study for diversity and inclusion? Isn’t expanding your family to include people from communities unlike yours, the very definition of diversity?
As I dug deeper, I found connections a bit closer home. It made me introspect. Where were my lines? Were these lines in the sand? Were they lines in concrete? How do I honor myself and all that I stand for if my loose circle of friends stood for things I did not condone?
If I want inclusion and equity, how much of myself was I willing to lose in order to view the other side from a non-judgmental space? Is that even possible?
My head is awash in questions. The answers may never come. It just stirs up the muddy waters in my depth until it settles again.