I just came across “Plain and Natural,” an excellent post by editor Wendy Lamb exploring the issues around diversity definitions. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I do worry about my use of terms, that they are the right ones. As those Wendy consults for her post point out, the answer is complicated.
And now I see that I was after the wrong thing—clear, direct language. The language is often awkward because the discussion itself is still awkward. The fact that we’re puzzling, and tripping up, over our words is a good sign. Change can be clumsy. Earlier terms were less convoluted, but not inclusive. Plain and natural: That’s not going to happen for a while. Keep trying.Dear reader: I’d love to hear what you think.
What I think it that we need to listen. Most importantly, to the young people whose ways of self-identifying are constantly changing. What might have been a way a young person self-identified thirty years ago may be different today. We need to pay attention to this. We also need to listen to parents, librarians, teachers and others who work closely and directly with children. Mind you, to a broad, broad, broad swath of voices. Urban, rural, north, south, central, poor, middle class, and more. We need to be open to as many view points as possible.
Finally, I agree with Wendy that the conversation is awkward and will continue to be for a while as society keeps changing. But that we must keep listening and keep trying.