Mind the Inclusion Gap
By Suzy Levy
How allies can bridge the divide between talking diversity and taking action
Wednesday, 22 December 2021
COVID, Christmas & Cancellations
As I shut down my laptop to take some much needed time off, I am struck by three things; Covid, Christmas and the need to stop calling things ‘cancellations’.
Covid is on my mind not least of which because it’s everywhere. My family, and myself, are no exception. I somehow managed to catch COVID19 on either the day of, or the day after my vaccine boost. It came as a bit of a shock as we arrived in Spain, ready for Christmas festivities and within a day, I fell very ill. The last few days have not been easy by any stretch, but I am grateful for the boost which the vaccine gave me (I only spent 4 days in bed!) and for my wonderful husband who simply switched over to taking care mode and making sure everyone, kids in included, were safely where they needed to be and looked after. Christmas prep has been an interesting feat this year as I am literally WhatsApping Anthony about the mess of unwrapped things I left in a suitcase and am unable to wrap as isolate myself in the top bedroom of our house -including his!. There are worse places in the world to be isolated than in the mountains with a view, but it will be a strange way to celebrate Christmas this year. The kids understand COVID means they cannot be in the same room with me, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t miss each other between the walls. Hugs are what fuels me, and I miss them from the girls, and from my life partner too.
As my health continues to grow, so does my desire to get back working on the book. I’ve been working hard these last two weeks on the manuscript with two expert QA’s. Suran is catching all the little important storytelling and language edits I need to make – and making me laugh in the process- which trust me, is important when you’ve been at this book writing thing for more than three years. Ayla is course correcting me on language and some of the most nuanced aspects of being a transgender ally. I’ve even devoured a book she recommended by Shon Faye; The Trans Issue. It is both is a compelling and a compassionate read, in my humble opinion, a very accurate assessment of how the world creating 'a deafening conversation about trans people', which is often not being led by the trans community.
Which brings me to my final point – cancellations. I see the word being flippantly used, in the context of ‘being woke’ and ‘creating a cancel culture’ almost daily. Even today, the BBC had an article which gave a lot of airtime to a handful of well-known comedians who feel their humour is being curtailed by ‘cancelling’. The voice that stood out to me most was that of comedian Russel Kane who said “I don’t think anyone is saying can’t be offended, nobody is saying that, what we are saying is you can’t use hate speech that would prompt a gender-related crime, a sex-related crime or a race-related crime. There’s a massive, much needed shift in the conversation round gender, around men’s attitudes to women, around consent. Society has moved on.”
The reality is that comedians can still be funny and be close to the bone while not being offensive.
Inclusion, and our way forward, will require us all to be better and to do better. We don’t need cancellations, we need thoughtful solutions. We don’t need to live in a humourless vacuum, but humour that denigrates, humiliates or puts a person at risk, is not funny. We can do better. That’s why I have dedicated an entire chapter in the book to competing belief systems and how we work together to find those solutions.
And finally, it’s been 3 weeks since I launched the crowd-funding page with Unbound. I cannot thank you enough for your support. Because of it, we are now 46% of the way funded. As we approach the half-way mark, I have one cheeky ask. I know many of you may be having conversations about inclusion and diversity over the holiday period. If you get a chance, tell a friend! All we need is to double the number of people who have pledged, and we can begin the final editing sequence and make this book a reality.
Merry Christmas everyone.