Volume 1, Issue 22: On Inclusion

Hi friends! My red prayer plant was sitting on top of a bookcase, as happy as can be, but then got too heavy and snapped herself in multiple places. So, one bit got repotted as-is and I am now trying my hand at propagation. I’ll keep you all posted!

Light wood dining table with a folded black, white, and purple tea towel with a minimalist rendition of the musician Prince laying on it. On the towel are multiple small glasses with water and cuttings from a red prayer plant.
Light wood dining table with a folded black, white, and purple tea towel with a minimalist rendition of the musician Prince laying on it. On the towel are multiple small glasses with water and cuttings from a red prayer plant.

Today I want to talk about inclusion and while this is an evergreen topic, I think this part of the year allows for some very relevant examples. I often see acceptance happening without inclusion which makes me ask: Are the words “You are accepted here” worth anything without the actions of inclusion? I say no, not so much.

An example I’ve seen a lot, especially with the amount that we’re using Zoom for conferences, is that there is this general idea of acceptance of everyone (“Everyone’s welcome!”) yet closed captioning isn’t available for panels and talks to actually include folks who need it for access.

Not that anyone is eating at restaurants right now, but when folks were and were picking out places to eat and invited along friends, how often did people consider the seating situation for fat friends or accessibility for friends who use mobility aids?

If I intend to send out holiday cards that have a very general “Happy Holidays!” on them, thinking this is general enough to be inclusive but aim to pop them in the mail by December 21st this year, then I’ve already missed Hanukkah, St. Lucia Day, Solstice, and more.

I want to take it further. Are you planning mandatory meetings during Rosh Hashanah? Or having a team lunch during Ramadan, when folks may be fasting? If you’re planning a night out (which, you shouldn’t because we’re in a fucking pandemic. Come on, now.) are you taking into account your sober friends who you may be inviting?

When you’re in video conferencing software (Zoom, Skype, etc.), do you have your pronouns in your display name?

Everything I’ve mentioned is actually really easy to make inclusive but it involves deliberate thought. And to be able to be deliberate, you have to actually see people and those things that make us different from one another. It’s a silly thing, but I have lost count of the times I have been gifted makeup or hair products that do not play well with my skin tone or hair type. This is how to make someone feel unseen.

As the calendar year is nearing its end, inclusion is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot among the things I want to be more deliberate about in the coming year (and now. No need to wait for the new year). Focusing on not only my intentions, but on the actions I can take. If I’m asked to talk at a conference, I can be more firm about closed captioning. I can be better about image descriptions on Instagram. I’ll learn how to caption my videos on social. We cannot control what everyone else does, but I can at least improve the tiny bit of internet content that we own.

Other stuff:

Shout out to my new pen-pals! Thank you for sending little bits of joy to my mailbox. If you want to send me mail, you can do it at the address below. If you also include your return address, I’ll definitely write back!

P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481

Speaking of mail, if you want packages delivered before December 25th and you are mailing from the United States, the Postal Service has a helpful web page with suggested dates. Hanukkah starts on December 10th this year so you may want to get those gifts into the mail sooner than later.

Books I’ve finished since last newsletter:

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland (Bookshop.org | Amazon)

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (Bookshop.org | Amazon)

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (Bookshop.org | Amazon)

Goldie Vance, Vol 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams (Bookshop.org | Amazon)

Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance by S.W. Searle (Bookshop.org | Amazon)

Books I’m currently reading:

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Bookshop.org | Amazon)

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders (Bookshop.org | Amazon)

(Amazon links are affiliate links but I really prefer you support your local independent bookstore)

That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, please subscribe, share it with a friend, and/or give me a tip!

Patricia's Tip Jar

Share