As a multiracial woman, I often get the benefit of the doubt for being inclusive. I’m a one-person diversity solution and occasionally, spokesperson.
I’m not sure it’s deserved.
I have blind spots. I sometimes make incorrect assumptions based on the way someone looks or where they are from or their level of education, and get humbled when I realize my mistake. I try to check myself and recognize my own privilege instead of foolishly believing my demographic indicators give me some sort of automatic integrity.
As a brown child, I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s in a white family in overwhelmingly homogeneous communities: the very white cities of Billings, MT, and Portland, OR. This had a range of effects on me that I’m still unpacking (I can’t even bring myself to watch This Is Us most weeks — too close!).
But I experienced America from the majority. Our family was mainstream-Christian, middle class, and even the theater kids I ran with in high school weren’t out of the closet yet. I chose a Christian college, which meant that the formative years most spend expanding their horizons were instead spent in an even more Christian, even whiter, even more unaccepting of homosexual – or sexual, period – lifestyles.
Imagine how the whole world opened up when I moved to New York City! The diversity was magical. From the first moment, I loved being surrounded by all kinds of people from all walks of life, where you could simply cross the street and blonde hair was no longer the beauty standard.
Growing up in the environments of the American majority, “passing” for white in a white family, speaking fluent Christian and pop culture and with a non-specific accent, has made me incredibly privileged.
As a result, I have a unique vantage point, best explained by Danzy Senna’s writing, including her marvelous novel Caucasia and her brilliant essay The Mulatto Millennium, which ends with this tongue-in-cheek admission:
I’ve learned to flaunt my mixedness at dinner parties, where the guests (most of them white) ooh and aaah about my flavorful background… And when they start talking about black people, pure breeds, in that way that before the millennium used to make me squirm, I let them know that I’m neutral, nothing to be afraid of.
My commitment with Pregame, both online and off, is to do my sincere best to create a diverse community. In the magazine, this means showcasing a range of voices and artwork. Amy, Heather, and I give considerable attention to making sure we include writers, artists, and interviewees of different demographic backgrounds. We know from experience and from common sense that our content is better and richer for it.
Still, we can be better. Due to the cities I’ve lived in and my resulting network, our audience and contributors are primarily big-city, left-leaning, well-educated people. The new diversity may be based on psychographic rather than demographic; giving voice to those who have made different life choices — or not had those options in the first place. While I’ll never compromise a tone of inclusion and respect, I will continue to reassess the balance of backgrounds represented to reflect a range of definitions of success.
I invite you to hold us accountable, and to suggest new voices and visuals you’d like to see included. We are listening.
Strategy & Style,