The word ‘inclusive’ sounds awesome, right? All you can drink, all you can eat, and everyone’s invited! If that’s the case, I’m left wondering why it seems like there are so many restrictions to what is deemed inclusive. Has this word been hijacked like so many others to mean the opposite and it now requires footnotes to guide us to a more superlative, updated meaning?
The truth about inclusivity is that it is not about zeroing in on who we want to have on board. It is about accepting even those we may not like and accepting anyone who wants to take us up on what we’re putting out. A grocery store should not discriminate against who shops there, it should be inclusive. A gas station should not allow only left-handed people to use the pumps, it should also be inclusive. But we use the word ‘inclusive’ so righteously all the while making some people feel unwelcome because of their age, politics, gender or a host of other reasons and beliefs.
As a man I have nothing against all-women groups or groups who restrict membership, but that is not inclusivity, that is exclusivity–which is fine, it’s just not meant for everyone and there is nothing wrong with that. When everything is truly ‘inclusive’, concepts and ideas get watered down, things becomes a bit predictable and boring because inevitably someone will get offended and nothing will happen. Cultures die, humor withers, individual expression is oppressed and there is no pudding for anyone. Not to mention that people will be taken advantage of
I learned the meaning of inclusivity around 7th grade when I really noticed how certain people were left on the sidelines, never included, never invited and always overlooked. And I’ve never described myself as being ‘inclusive’, but perhaps I always have been because those were the people I cared about the most regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. Identity politics does not factor into inclusivity because by virtue of its name alone, it is about labeling and true inclusivity does not utilize labels and does not discriminate.
Inclusivity is about love, not for a specific type, but for all. It is about including people into your realm that compliments you and help you pull the best that there is out of yourself. True inclusivity requires enormous strength of character to practice. It’s hard work that requires looking far beyond individual desires and persistent pains.
Inclusivity is a wonderful thing that cannot exist without exclusion. Since one cannot exist without the other, we find the place on that inclusion-exclusion spectrum that works so that we can appreciate both.