I moved yesterday from Mount Saint Vincent University to Dalhousie University following the Bermuda-Nova Scotia Regional Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the United Church of Canada. That run-on sentence sounds like it was written by the apostle Paul, as any of you who read his letters in our services already know.
Arriving on campus about 3 pm, I was proudly wearing my pin celebrating diversity. The same one given to me at a conference that was not very diverse ethnically and not diverse enough orientation/identity wise either, although to be fair, the General Secretary of the UCC is Jamaican/Canadian. I believe we had 3 Indigenous people in attendance; 1 for ceremony and mother-daughter presenters whose workshop I attended.
Fast forward to 5 pm, just two short hours later, and I became self-conscious wearing the pin out and about in the city of Halifax. All of a sudden I am embarrassed to be the poster child, or not-so-young spokesperson, for diversity. Of any kind. I felt every bit the educated, white heterosexual settler I am. But my privilege and lack of personal life experience as a LGBTQIA+2S person, or as a member of a minority, or of another group of people pushed to the margins and beyond, has nothing to do with my discomfort in wearing the pin.
Before you read ahead, can you imagine why I intentionally removed my pin, slipping it into my pocket unceremoniously?
I smiled as I removed the pin. Why? Because it was superfluous! Completely unnecessary! It looked like I was the only one making a big deal about it. The lady protesteth too much. Lol.
Diversity was normative. If anything I was the one out of step. Everywhere I looked I saw different coloured people speaking all kinds of languages. I saw all kinds of couples in love who were born vast distances and cultures apart. So much hand holding and happiness. I saw hair styles in every colour of the rainbow on many, many people of different ages, orientations and different identities. And lots of children of every colour. Dogs of every breed. Smiling with their tails in motion. That is why I like University towns. They are international. People are more accepting by nature and wide open in their many expressions of where they have come from and who they are becoming. Together.
I lived in Halifax and was a passenger in a car driven through Africville once as a 11 year old in the summer of 1965. I grew up in one day through that one experience. There were no adults to be seen. Just children of all ages on the roads with no shoes, just dirty T-shirts and no diapers or shorts. Many were crying. The houses were shacks, if that. I was just old enough to be confused and ashamed of how I lived when I saw how, what I know now as African Nova Scotians, were living. It would have been so helpful if an adult had unpacked this injustice for me.
I went to bed hopeful last night. I really did. It seems we truly are moving toward the world as God envisioned it. Despite all appearances to the contrary. I know we’re not yet there but keep praying. Because I believe we are finally learning how to love as we are loved rather than how we decide to do so. Maybe we are closer than we think to a time when everyone is included and loved and abundance is shared; where difference is superfluous making diversity pins a thing of the past. And, Africvilles too.