Sometimes you get the pleasure of reading a quote that makes you do a double-take. You read the words and sit back, take a deep breath and think. That is exactly what happened to me yesterday as I was wasting my day away scrolling through selfie after selfie and #blessed posts on Instagram. There is was nonchalantly mixed in; this quote by a self proclaimed “recovering attorney” turned nationally recognized diversity/inclusion adviser Verna Myers:
“Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Whoa. Why does this quote resonate so well? Because we have all been there. No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you look like we have all been in a situation where we may be present; but we don’t actually feel like we truly belong. And that feeling fucking sucks.
Because we humans are all wired to belong. It’s the reason we formed cliques in high school based on silly things like who had the latest Hollister polo on their back or who could spike a volleyball the hardest.
Now imagine being a minority and always having that searing long to belong feeling always present. Maybe you are one of the few African Americans in a predominately white suburban school. Or a woman in a male dominated work place. Or a LGBTQ teen stuck growing up in the very straight heartland of America. You may be present at the party, office, or school but why aren’t you shaking your moneymaker front and center on that dance floor? Or killing it as class president? Or rocking that corner office?
A lot of times we feel like just simply inviting is enough. We hire people from historically marginalized groups to meet our quota and then we send them off into the abyss with nothing more than a life jacket and a wish of good luck. We invite our “token gay friend” to the house party and then just let them be forgotten in the corner. We post a picture on social media of our Veteran cousin on Veteran’s day but when it’s any of the other 364 days of the year homeless veterans line our streets. That’s not enough.
When people ignore inclusion it’s because they usually believe it doesn’t involve them. I call bullshit. We have all felt the sharp pain of exclusion at some point or another. Let’s invest in people so we can all succeed. Not black, white, gay, straight, women, Asian people just PEOPLE. The invitation isn’t where diversity and inclusion ends, it’s the beginning.
The beginning is being there. The beginning is not posting on social media but in showing up. The beginning is being on the dance floor of diversity and dancing our hearts out.
Won’t you dance with me?