I was adopted and the only BlPoC in my hometown. When I was growing up, I rarely saw people who looked like me. That's why I often lacked the feeling of belonging. It hurt hearing others telling me that I was different. And I heard that almost every day.
Today I live together with my wife, who is White and our daughter who is Black. We are also different from most of other families. But at least we are different together. That makes a huge difference. It gives us a lot of inner peace and self-confidence.
Since we moved to the United States, our daughter and me are no longer so different from everyone else. Despite the different cultures, our daughter especially feels a sense of belonging and that is so important. Important for your mental growth, inner peace and well-being.
Our daughter is very lucky. She can be herself every day. That means freedom and self-worth.
Unfortunately, I know many people who do not share this fortune every day. They are different. The consequence is that they pretend to be, fall silent or even hide just to avoid being hurt. Exclusion is terrible. We all just want to belong and be accepted.
That's why I want more places where not only children are safe, where they can just be themselves and be accepted completely as they are. This is what I wish for all people.
How do we design these places?
As a beginning we can start with ourselves. The next time someone tells us that a comment or action excludes or hurts that person, we should just listen and listen closely. It is not a pleasant feeling to be criticized, I know. But directly defending or relativizing the argument of our counterpart as a reaction does not help. And maybe we can manage to change our perspective and put ourselves in the other person's shoes for a moment.
It is discriminatory and hurtful if the receiving person feels this way - regardless of how the sending person meant it.
Believe me, I am often tired of having to explain myself over and over again to have to lead discussions about discrimination, racism or white privilege as the representative mouthpiece of all BlPoC or queer women. But as a privileged person I want to do my part to create safe places for all of us.
I would be very happy if you would be part of it.