This is a poem of mine that I am reading for the first-ever #altc22 open mic event today. I hope this blog and poem will inspire attendees to the #altc22 conference to look into diversity and beg us all to question the status quo.
For reference, please visit my blog post on ‘Changing Changing mindsets to reduce discrimination at work’ (https://teeroumaneenadan.com/2022/04/28/changing-mindset-to-reduce-discrimination-at-work/), and my #altc22 online presentation ‘Skip your sleep, it is 23:59’ scheduled for 8th September 2022 15:30 – 16:00 (https://www.academia.edu/86184927/Skip_your_sleep_it_is_23_59).
This poem came to mind sometime in April after seeing several online conferences, meetings and trainings being postponed or cancelled to later dates so that they can be in-person again, in a format similar to pre-pandemic. This trend started in early 2022, as more and more people started to protest about their loss of freedom (huh, come again) and higher vaccination rates in a few developed and well-resourced countries sparked the end of the pandemic.
Later, there were abled people boasting online on how they were making it to pre-event drink parties, post-event drink parties, and it hit me that organisers of large conferences may, after all, not have learnt anything during the pandemic. Earlier this year, I have been questioning such online event cancellations, because I could not and cannot take out an experience that I had first hand.
In 2019, as Organising Committee Chair, although based in UK at that time, I flew one conference attendee (now dear friend) in an electric wheelchair from Budapest to Vienna. It was no easy task, I had to juggle tight finances and service providers based in Germany who could not understand. At no point in time did I have to convince my own team though, I was very lucky for various reasons, but mainly we were a team of future leaders, who were already working on remote working, future of work and such topics that most people are only discovering during the pandemic. Read my experience here:
With my experience of international events organisation, I have often been amazed by the lack of empathy of some conference organisers and even attendees. Of course, I do not expect you to agree with my opinion, because not everyone has had the same trainings and opportunies as me (for clarity, I was not handed those opportunities, I sought them). One thing that is perhaps misunderstood, even now, is the anticipatory duty of disability and equality within the UK Equality Act 2010, the only protected ground where there is anticipatory duty.
So, this poem is influenced from my own work around disability and change management. Happy Reading! Hope you enjoy it.
When the world was crying in the pandemic, I was happy!
Yes, I was happy. Yes, I was happy.
I was happy that people were stuck at home
I was happy that the roads were quiet
I was happy that people had to Zoom and Google Meet
I was happy people were not turning their webcam on
I was happy conferences, meetings were all online
Oh yes, I was happy education moved online
You see, or perhaps not
I am stuck in my bed
I am autistic
I am dyslexic
I am an introvert
I am immunodeficient
So few people bothered about me before the pandemic
I love Covid19, it is so tiny yet so powerful
It made this world halt
And suddenly everyone was living what I have (always) been living
Now I am scared
I am scared seeing people without masks
I am scared seeing people scuffling around
I am scared that people will forget all about me again
I am scared that people will forget how I feel again
I am scared that YOU will forget
This poem is closely related to diversity and intersectionality, it highlights the fact that a diverse team is needed for diversity – or inclusivity – however you wish to call it by:
- EDI – Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion
- DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- JEDI – Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- IDEA – Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access
- DEIB – Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
- Or your preferred acronym
I personally believe in belonging and justice, in which all the others then fit in for me.
In the first picture, you may notice that I wrote ‘Forget me not’ and then struck it through. So readers, what are you working on at the moment? What is the A, B, D, E, I, J element in your current work? How are you questioning the status quo? For those of you interested in Learning Techs, what does that mean to you? Many questions, keep asking yourself questions until we can all care for each other as human beings.