From the ground up - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Much is being made in today’s world about inclusion. The act of helping everyone feel as though they belong, regardless of a number of factors, is a trend very much heading in the right direction.
And yet, there’s always grumbling. It’s easy to see an older, grumpy white man thinking his television, newspapers, social media, etc. is being overtaken by women, people of colour, the differently-abled, the LGBTQ community and more. It’s a very different world than the one he grew up in and, no, he won’t be joining all of you Woke-a-Pokes behind Wokeahontas as she scales Wokeback Mountain.
Yet, as a parent, I am seeing these strides in a very different way. As my daughter watches shows that include young Black, Asian, Latino kids, kids who use hearing aids, pairs of gay parents, people who use wheelchairs, women in positions of power and careers of influence, she’s establishing a foundation that includes all of these people, concepts and possibilities. It’s not weird for her to see a woman as a doctor or a firefighter or a person of colour as a mayor.
A book I reference far too much is Common Ground - the late, great J. Anthony Lukas’ non-fiction account of the desegregation of Boston schools through cross-town bussing. Sending students of colour all over the city to attend schools in a system (and city) designed to intentionally and systematically keep Black families in specific areas (doing it *wink* without, you know, like, “doing it”). Boston proved to be among the most controversial, but the method was used all over the U.S. to integrate cities like L.A., Kansas City, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville and more.
It was a tremendous burden of effort, even for the families of colour, to send children all over the city to a different school when their previous school was just sitting there, within walking distance. However, if the people in charge wanted to foster integration, this was the way to do it. (On a side note, it worked. There is now no racism in the U.S. Alright, that’s not true, but it was a noble effort.)
The lesson here, I suppose, is that it probably does feel like scaling a mountain (Wokeback or otherwise) retrofitting a solution to such a monumental and foundational problem.
A conversation I once had with accessibility advisor Julie Sawchuk has always stuck with me. She said that, if you’re building a house from the ground up, it’s really not that hard (nor that expensive) to make it accessible. It’s when you have to retrofit buildings whose builders had no concept of accessibility (in many cases through no fault of their own, it was just the time) that the process gets tough, expensive and very complicated.
That’s why I’ll not bristle at inclusion when it comes to this kind of stuff. Frankly, it works.
What some in older generations, and many in my generation and even younger may see as pandering, unnecessary and “going woke” (which invariably means going broke, says the internet), Tallulah will see as everyday life that includes people of colour, successful women, people who use different aids to assist them and people who can love whoever they want.
Because she grew up in it, there won’t be any retrofitting for her. There won’t be a reckoning with a past she’s understandably attached to, and the drastic measures to correct the mistakes of that past. These people haven’t been introduced into the media she consumes as the “other” in an effort to accomplish this or that. They’re just as much a part of the tapestry of the show as the white people and they’re all part of the same thing, having fun together, living and playing side by side.