You may have heard the quote, “Diversity is about being invited to the party, inclusion is dancing at the party, and belonging is feeling a part of the party.” (Having lost track of the person who said this, I apologize for not attributing to the right individual).
Recently, I (Manpreet) took a train from the Netherlands to London.
As I stood in the line-up, a passenger cut me off and proceeded to move through the security line ahead of me. Shocked, I said, “excuse me, it was my turn next.” I said this not because of where I was in the queue, as we were all heading in the same direction, but because this person pushed me aside to step in front. He goes, “Nope, I was in front of you. ”The staff member interjects, “Sorry, sir, the madam was ahead of you. She stepped back to let the business premier passenger go ahead.”
The passenger continued to argue as he gathered his things. We both arrive at passport control, and he starts again about how he was ahead of me, that I was standing too close to him (remember he budged in front of me) and that this is what dark-skinned people always do. The passport control officers looked at the man from the Netherlands and me, shook their heads, and looked down.
At that moment, I felt really small and, in a shaky voice, said again, “No, you cut in front of me, but our recollections differ, so you can believe what you want. ”At this moment, what inclusion and belonging would have felt like is to have the support of the passport control officers. Like the staff member who acknowledged my presence, made eye contact with me and found a way to interject.
The response could have been as simple as holding one of us back to create space, changing the topic, or asking if I was okay. We all have a duty to one another to create an inclusive community. It is crucial to remember that each of our actions or inaction influences how someone else feels at that moment.
I share my story as many of us constantly witness these situations. Sometimes it feels safe to say something, and sometimes, it doesn’t. However, when you are in a place of privilege behind a glass barrier and control someone’s movements – you have the power to influence the situation.