Diversity is not always about differences that are ‘in-your-face’!

– Dr. Shweta Verma

6 February 2020

 

I have been and will be talking about human diversity a lot! In the discourse on diversity, I am focusing on disability as part of human diversity. Respect for human diversity , and recognition of disability as part of human diversity is not a new thing. We have been talking about it with great emphasis since the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came in.

But based on what I have been hearing from people around me, I think it is time to challenge the myth that it is disability only when you can see it! Or that if some people really don’t look any different, they must not be considered as part of human diversity or as a person with disability.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Identity of a person does not change just because we do not recognise the various parts of their identities.
  • To be liked by each other, we do not have to become ‘like’ each other.
  • Majority is not necessarily the norm.
  • All of us will be able to find something that is similar when we get to know each other. But that does not mean that there are no differences.
  • That we are different from each other – this cannot be wished away just for the sake of our belief in a common code, common culture, common history, or something else.
  • In the context of similarities and differences, what does not really change is the fact that everyone has rights.
  • Disability is not just about only using wheelchair or looking so different that a person ‘must have a disability’.
  • Not looking very different does not necessarily mean that our experiences are no different from each other.
  • Our experiences do shape so much of us. It does not help to wish away the impact of experiences on people. Just because we do not know about it, it does not mean that it has not happened!

I do hope that next time we say something like….

‘You don’t look disabled’

‘You don’t look like a Muslim’

‘You don’t behave like a woman/girl’

‘You are not like other men/boys’

….we can stop ourselves and recognise the extent of diversity around us. People are not always categories that we think or see in!

Take care.

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This post was first published on the personal blog of Dr. Shweta Verma on 11 August 2019

 

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