Normalizing Diversity

La Voz de Galicia – December 14, 2018 →

Cristina PatoI boarded the plane. I had to write this column, and I was quite clear what it would be about: a brief story about women composers. I got started, and then I got stuck. And because I couldn’t go out for a walk to clear my writer’s block since I was on a plane, I started to watch a movie: Campeones (Champions). 

Sometimes, the idea for these columns is the result of daily moments as simple as they are magical. Sometimes they are based on a theory, or on a brief story that begins to take shape and refuses to leave my head until I write it down. Today’s column is an urge, a reaction to Javier Fesser’s masterpiece.  

Words matter more than one thinks. But the ways we define what surrounds us is what helps us to accept or to reject things that we find unfamiliar. I grew up in a relatively diverse family, and even though five of its six members were women, each one of us was a world unto herself. I’ve always thought that our mother did an excellent job of just “letting us be”: Teté, the oldest, basketball and engineering in the eighties. Raquel, the third one, music and naval engineering; and Yoly, the second one, tried a bit of everything until she found a way of living in and integrating herself into a society little ready for diversity. It was with her with whom I lived the longest since she never left home to attend the university. Even though in her generation being different carried with it an unspoken stigma, for me, growing up with her was the best possible life lesson. 

The normalization of diversity is a joint endeavor. Of society as a whole. The politics of inclusion are worth little if we are not able to see what it is we are excluding with our way of talking about things, with the way we treat others. Thank you, Javier Fesser. 

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