I’m not a big fan of the word “inclusion”.
As someone raised by scientists and fascinated with geology, it always makes me think of amber with a water bubble, or a bug, or tiny piece of wood caught in it; frozen in time.
It is beautiful, but it is beauty that comes from emphasizing the otherness. It is inherently exoticizing. But for years with my justice work, I rolled with inclusion as a key concept because it seemed like an OK starting place, and I hadn’t encountered anything better.
Then a friend introduced me to the idea that the real goal is belonging.
It changed how I see things enough that I eventually dedicated a book with it in the title- Building Belonging– to her. Her name is Tizita Assefa. Belonging for Tiz—and now for me—is that feeling you get when you walk into a room and something in your body relaxes. It eases your defenses because there is a deep alignment with the place and people you are with.
Belonging says you have nothing to be ashamed of.
Your passions are welcome here because you are among people who get you and with whom you share an understanding of the world.
Despite being born on opposite sides of the world, with different colors of skin and very different cultures, Tiz and I have this together, and it is a feeling that I think we all long for. For many of us, it is this need that pulls us toward community.
What are your surroundings when you experience belonging? With whom? In what context? And what does it feel like when you experience it?
Many of us have lost community to the culture of hyper-individualism, mobility, and competition, and find ourselves longing for deeper human connections.
Donate toward our $20,000 goal so we can help you bridge the gap from isolation to belonging. Visit Co-Create Our Future.
Author of Building Sustainable Communities bundle