Belonging – feeling included and valued – is one of the key human needs. People of all backgrounds long to belong, and in theory, most agree that it is important to value everyone equally, regardless of any characteristics they were born with. In reality, inclusion is often conditional. Gender or skin tone, social status or disability status, height or weight – many factors can make people seem “less” in the eyes of others – less valuable, less deserving to be heard, less deserving to be paid equitably. Less includable. Sometimes, even our accomplishments are “too much for our own good.”
But who are we to deny others the critical need to belong? And why do we justify systems in which some people are not given a chance to thrive, succeed, and contribute? When some are limited in what they can achieve, all are limited in how much we can thrive, collectively.
I’ve been working in the field of diversity and inclusion for many years. I taught many courses and wrote many articles. But sometimes, only a poem will do.
Aww, little girls are celebrated,
But – only cuteness is highly rated.
Mirror, am I unincludable?
Schools may reward great learning speed –
But nerdy girls are a bully feed.
I might just be unincludable.
Good students are welcomed in Higher Ed!
But not if your clothes are second-hand,
The poor are unincludable.
At work, I prevented a major loss
But “no girl can be smarter than her boss.”
So yeah, I remain unincludable.
This program supports top performers, hurray!
But not if “your name is too hard to say.”
Again, I remain unincludable.
Oh wow, your work is amazingly great!
But – “single women don’t need to be paid.”
Yep, I remain unincludable.
“Too weird, too nerdy – but too artistic,
Can grown women be autistic?”
I no longer accept “unincludable.”
Another slogan, another campaign,
Some move up a notch, but others remain
Ignored and unincludable.
Stuck in a checkbox, no human can thrive
It’s time to free our talents and drive
No human should be unincludable.