I've been hearing the word "inclusive" a lot more lately. I don't know if it's because I'm more interested in the issue or because it's trendy. I want to talk about diversity and inclusion and what it really means. Not what it means on the surface but how it makes us feel and why it seems to be a hot topic right now.
I am slightly annoyed when I hear the word diversity. I think a lot of people are and I think it's because it feels forced. No one wants to be forced to do anything, right? I'm not annoyed AT diversity or what it is, but almost every time you hear it, it's because someone wants some of it. "We need some more diversity." It's like milk. We need more milk - run out and get some. The more I think about it, when we say 'we need more diversity,' we're really saying we want to feel better about ourselves. We want to look around and the room and see a couple other people that don't look like us. That means we've done our job at including. I want to get us to the point where we want, expect and really invite diverse perspectives. I need Indy to be at a place where we crave the beliefs, culture and dynamics of other types of people. It's only then will we grow as a city. We can't grow or progress Indy if we're only saying "run out and get some more diversity" and not truly inviting new traditions in.
Diversity is beautiful. It's celebrating the fact that we ARE different and that it's a good thing. For so long we fought to be equal. All of us did - teenagers, women, black people. We all wanted to be the same and we were somewhat satisfied when people started saying "I don't see color." Well, I WANT people to see color. See me. See that I'm black and that I'm a woman and where I grew up and how it made me who I am. See the Asian man and recognize that he has something to offer that you don't.
Last night while visiting my grandmother, I noticed the nurse's accent. So instead of pretending that I don't see that she's different than me, I asked her where she was from. She was proud to tell me that she was from Liberia, in Africa, and she smiled so brightly. People are proud of their heritage and to answer questions about it. I love what I do because I get to be transparent. I get to talk about myself and answer questions about people like me. We should all be doing that and once we start, diversity will be natural. It won't feel forced and it won't feel like you're at the doctors' office when the word comes up at board meetings. Once we have a true change of heart and genuinely want to delve into the lives of others and be willing to change our city to match the new faces within it, then we'll be inclusive. And we've started! But we certainly have a ways to go.