By: Mariam Khalil
Collectively, we are all humans; however, it is our diversity that presents richness in our being. By interacting with people of different races, ages, sexes, perspectives, and experiences we gain a wealth of knowledge about the world.
Here’s a quick activity. I want us all to take the time and define what factors shape our life and the way we view the world. Ask yourself:
- How do I define my identity?
- What makes me the “me” that I am today?
For me, this second question includes multiple parts.
- I see the most obvious: My multicultural background – a proud Arab Egyptian Muslim woman.
- I see my character: A charismatic, creative, determined, and caring free-spirit.
- I see my education: A motivated McMaster University student and a lover of all things psychology.
- I see my passions: My voice, the power for justice, and my hunger for self-development and growth.
What do you envision yourself as being or becoming? What do you want to be known and recognized for?
Now, how would you feel if you entered a space in which you had to leave one of these core identities behind? A place where you wouldn’t be respected, valued, yet alone tolerated?
I answered: “stripped out of my own nature.”
I think this is the premise of inclusivity.
McMaster events like the Student Leadership Conference, which will be happening in January, thrive on this premise. The conference’s purpose is to ignite change and give us the opportunity to “network with over 300 current and aspiring student leaders from across campus, engage with professional presenters, and start the new semester with fresh ideas and passion.” Events like these create a future for a more equitable society.
As a start, I think it’s important to put forth a great effort to use inclusive language, regardless of whether it’s in serious conversation or the form of a joke.
Everyone comes from a different background and it is important to keep in mind another’s feelings, acknowledge their thoughts, and create an open and judgmental-free community. By doing this, we can better embrace each other in our entirety.
How about if you can’t accept their ideologies? I’m here to tell you that’s okay. It’s okay and even welcomed to disagree with someone, as this sparks insightful conversation; however, it is crucial to respect everyone’s opinions and experiences, placing them at an equal value as our own.
I encourage you to talk about your identity with others. Educate people about who you are. Tell them what makes you unique and beautiful. Share with them what makes you spark. Together we can learn. Together we can diminish an ignorance of the unknown and we can create a safe space of interaction for us all.
To a more peaceful world.
Mariam Khalil blogged for the Student Success Centre from 2016 to 2017.