I just read that the White House issued a statement last week about Holocaust Remembrance Day, without mentioning Jewish people.
An article in the New York Times states: “Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the president, told a CNN reporter that the wording was intentional because the administration is ‘an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered.’”
Hold the phone.
I’m mad for two reasons – because Jewish people were not mentioned and because of how easily people throw around the word inclusion while they do everything but include.
True inclusion requires that we see and acknowledge people and their realities and experiences; it requires that we see and name the injustices that have occurred – past and present – in order to understand the context people come from and what they bring to the table; and it requires a commitment to equity, to create opportunities for people to participate fully and be all of who they are.
I often hear “we’re inclusive, everyone is welcome” or “we’re inclusive, we love everyone” – which usually translates into “everyone like us”, and/or a lack of awareness about what it really means to be inclusive.
Because we see and experience the world from a limited perspective, inclusion requires work. You’re not inclusive just because you say you are – your words and actions have to show your commitment. And that commitment requires awareness, openness, humility, and continual learning and growth. It requires that you see people for who they are – because our identities impact our experiences, the access we have, as well as the barriers we face, our perceptions and how we are perceived.
Also, if you are really committed to inclusion, you don’t get to pick and choose who you are inclusive of – it’s an all-encompassing term (and travel bans are inconsistent with this commitment, by the way).
Over 6 million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust.
Targeted simply because they were Jewish.
And there were other groups, including people with disabilities and those who identified as LGBTQ (for example) who were also sent to concentration camps by the Nazis, and who were also not mentioned in the statement.
While the term holocaust is defined as destruction on a mass scale, The Holocaust makes reference to this specific genocide of Jewish people in Europe during World War II.
How you can reference this horrific event and simply leave out the targeted group and then excuse it under the guise of inclusion is…well, I have no words to adequately express my outrage.