It’s easy to jump to conclusions.
Last night when I heard that our mayor John Tory didn’t realize Kanye West wasn’t Canadian the first thought I had was: “It’s because he is Black”.
And then I checked myself.
Because I mixed up Kanye West with K’naan (also Black but born in Somalia and raised in Toronto). Was that also because they are both Black? Admittedly they aren’t getting as much press as, say, Justin Bieber (which could point to unconscious bias or even racism in the media) but still…
It’s often easy to point fingers and make assumptions about why others do or say things (and note that we don’t make those judgments about ourselves as readily, if at all). It can be easy to assume someone’s words or actions are due to racism or homophobia etc. – because they do exist. But in going there first we may be missing the bigger picture and do others (and ourselves) a disservice.
We don’t all like the same music. And when we don’t listen to a genre of music, chances are we won’t be familiar with the artists. Like I said, I didn’t catch his mistake right away either.
John Tory is admittedly not a fan, and he doesn’t have to be. There could be any number of reasons for this. Here is what he is quoted as saying:
“I won’t say that I spend every single night at home listening to his music, but, you know what, I’m smart enough to know that a lot of people do,” Tory told CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan when asked if he was a Kanye fan. “And I’m smart enough to know that he’s a proud product of our music industry here, as are a number of others.”
Blunder about national identity aside, I think his answer says something about an inclusive mindset. It’s not his “cup of tea”, but he gets that others will love it.
That’s the spirit of inclusion: making room for the ideas and needs of others.
Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Facilitator, author and speaker on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.