Provocations: Silence is not an option

Let’s talk about change, primarily because they say why fix something if it isn’t broken.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that change is possible. Bringing systemic change that serves all of humanity requires effort, consistency and a relentless human-centred focus on the way we think, feel, design the processes and establish desired outcomes. The narratives of disability and diversity are complex and nuanced. How did we miss the point?

Organisations at large are lagging behind in their understanding of the context of visible and invisible disabilities faced by the humans they serve and the humans that serve them. A majority of public and retail spaces are simply not designed to accomodate the needs of humans in wheelchairs, for instance. A lot of good people in the academic community, where I have spent a large part of my career, are struggling with mental health issues (you can follow the conversations on Twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/AcademicMentalHealth).

Disability and diversity are big words that people in my lived experience in three continents and counting aren’t very comfortable talking about. I challenge myself to speak, especially when I feel I am risking something. Recently, I spoke about my experience of burnout as a panelist at the first ever international conference on mental health in academia. I was the only woman of colour in the panel and I felt exposed, vulnerable and shockingly empowered at the same time. You can learn to push yourself out of your comfort zone, if you choose.

Diversity is not merely about introducing a quota system or having women of colour in senior leadership positions. Diversity is a myriad of colours, ethnicities, voices, and perspectives. We (you and I) see these humans. We know these humans. We are these humans. We complete the narrative of “us” and our shared humanity.   

Silence is not an option if we are interested in challenging the status quo. At this time in the history of human experience on planet earth, we get to make these decisions. Choosing to speak when it’s awkward and uncomfortable is a courageous decision.

Challenge yourself to speak. Speak where you can, when you can. Ask questions, even if you are uncomfortable.

Ask questions, especially when you are uncomfortable. 

Let it be a drop in the ocean of Meta. Let the light shine through the cracks. We are queued in, listening. Make your craft and engage us with it.

I welcome your thoughts, questions, feedback, pushback, or anything else that occurs to you. Send me a direct message on Twitter or Instagram