diversity and inclusion

here’s a little more from raul’s blog. the topic raul broached was diversity. by the way, those of you who are not engaged in social media, please don’t run away. because guess what – what’s happening in social media is very similar to what’s happening IRL – i mean, in real life 🙂

raul quotes tamera kramer

“diversity actually means diverse voices too. and I also would throw in that while lack of women’s voices is a HUGE issue, we should also be talking about opening the field beyond white/ straight/ physically capable. let’s define what being truly diverse really means.”

tamera is absolutely right. why isn’t there a conversation around diversity and what it means both in general for the speaker’s circuit and for the social media world overall?

there are some very good comments on raul’s blog, ranging from whether “having a conference for example for gay Latino men that excludes everyone else” is or isn’t the answer (tris and cecily say something about that) to underscoring the need to hear the voices of people with disabilities (ganga and glenda weigh in on this) to wondering how supportive social media in vancouver – and probably elsewhere – really is (kudos to steff) to warning of the pitfalls of social privilege given to people with diverse backgrounds, using the example of livejournal (atomicpoet).

here are a few things i added to the comments

inclusion AND diversity, once we go beyond the obvious, are very difficult, one of the reasons being what tris mentioned – it’s HARD to grasp.

it’s like fish trying to understand why humans fear drowning, or a grasshopper trying to grasp what’s so good about living under a rock 200 m deep in the ocean.

or wait! in most cases that would be the wrong metaphor – because a grasshopper sees no need to imagine the life of an undersea creature.

or wait! THAT’s what social media and blogging are – theoretically – so good for: hearing/seeing/reading what “those other” people live like, love, hate, and laugh about.

social media and blogging have helped open a lot of topics that were previously taboo or accessible only to far-off corners of society. terra gave a fabulous example of that when she talked about how mommybloggers did away with stigma around mental illness during MentalHealthCamp.

are we ready to take the next step?

the next step is going from nodding enthusiastically to acting on what we have found when we looked through the social media windows into other people’s lives. here are a few ideas if we truly want to hear the voices that so far we have not heard, for whatever reason (one of them being that our ears were closed). how do we make it possible for those voices to be heard?

let’s take the voice of poverty. how is someone on low income going to get to an event in a far-off suburb? car? probably not. public transit? IS there public transit going to the event? and if so, how much does it cost? how do you think it feels for someone on low income to always ask for money for such events? and remember, they need to get the money for it beforehand, not after, because if you are on low income, you have days where you have no cash whatsoever.

the voices that haven’t been heard much are often untrained voices. tris says we should look for “the best person to speak on that topic”. it’s easy for the mainstream to say what “best” means, and that measuring stick is often self-referencing. does “best” mean polished, up-to-date, articulate, in-group like? or could it mean someone who adds a new perspective, someone who wakes us up, perhaps by making us feel uncomfortable? we all love to quote people like gandhi, dr. martin luther king or einstein for the courage they instill to go against the grain. easy to do in hindsight and from our comfy chairs. but think about how lonely, scared, inept and other they felt when they first started out. are we ready to tolerate, even embrace that otherness?

inclusiveness means including everyone. here’s an example, which is the second part of my comment on raul’s blog

re blogging dads, tris – one of the reasons why social media here in vancouver is clique-y (and it’s not terribly clique-y but still noticeable) is because the vast majority of people who can get together at a bar on a thursday evening at an hour’s notice are single, mobile people, who live and/or work downtown.

a south vancouver grandma like me, or rob who has two little kids – well, it’s hard for us to do that. so the cliquishness comes from different lifestyles, among other things. added to that are the unique social skills and habits that social media types display.

my point is that inclusion is not only about the obvious. tris also made a good point – that being in loud crowds does not appeal to everyone. now of course we can’t always try to make everyone happy or comfortable. but it’s important to remember that if a group always behaves the same way, it automatically appears unwelcoming to those who don’t or can’t behave in that way.

a big topic, i know.

which is why i like to propose something: let’s have a topic for our next northern voice blogging and social media (un)conference:

diversity and inclusion!

then maybe we can think about it and take it into the flesh-and-blood world …


  1. Its interesting how social media is diverse and inclusive when online, but when it comes to face-to-face, some of that richness is lost. I’m not sure why that is, Isabella.

    I’d love to attend Northern Voices, but, like you mentioned its getting from Whalley to UBC by 9am in the middle of winter by transit that is the challenge. SFU Surrey for WordCamp Fraser Valley was such a perfect location. Perhaps not all of the local social media events need to be downtown?
    .-= Glenda Watson Hyatt ´s last blog ..My Response to Nurse Ratchet =-.

  2. Thank you so much for exploring diversity and inclusion. When I had to leave my work as a therapist in part because of my lack of stability with bipolar I went from being a professional to a patient with a thick black line drawn between the two. There was no inclusion when I became ill. For 30 years I worked as a therapist and managed bipolar… and then became ill and one of the different ones. Thanks again for this post. Annie

  3. I think some social media could encourage inclusioin. E.g. Facebook – by meeting friends of friends and finding different groups.

    Mostly I think on line tends to be narrowly focused – people type in specific things to google or look for particular things on Facebook.

    As you point out including different voices can mean the need to change things are done. Would like to hear what happens at Northern Voices.
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..Honeymoon =-.

  4. @glenda – your observation that the richness is dimished f-2-f is very interesting. often people talk about it the other way round!

    what you’re saying about transportation is something that needs to be thought about. IF we were to have a NV that focuses on diversity and inclusion i’d say that that’s something we really need to think about. it would be a nice idea, for example, to organize a fund that pays for things like that.

    @annie you touched on a topic very dear to my heart. actually, i just read an article about MD’s being afraid to talk about their mental health issues. crazy!

    @evan too bad norther voices is too far away for you! or are you planning a trip to vancouver anytime soon, from faraway australia? (that would be SOOO exciting!)
    .-= isabella mori (@moritherapy)´s last blog ..acceptance =-.

  5. I think it’s a very bold suggestion and I like it! Glad to hear you want Northern Voice’s next theme to be diversity and inclusion. Let’s keep the fingers crossed!

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