Radical Inclusion

I’m going to write this story once so that I don’t hold on to it longer than necessary.

I was at a bar having a great time when a gentleman sat down next to me.

He was Middle Eastern and since my dad is Middle Eastern I wanted to talk to him about where he was from.

So I politely asked him where he was from.

Oakland.

Oh, I see. I only asked because my father is from Lebanon and I thought you might be too.

Well, it turns out he WAS from Lebanon.

Beirut actually, just like my father.

So we chatted about the old country and farms and Burning Man.

He asked me what my favorite Burning Man principle was.

I replied that it was definitely RADICAL INCLUSION.

I can come off as awkward from time to time so I like a principle that encourages people to embrace me despite my weirdness.

He agreed with me.

We were having such a good time talking, we barely noticed the bartender who was hanging around us, muttering under his breath.

But suddenly, we both VERY CLEARLY heard a racial slur come from his direction.

One I don’t care to repeat, but which was so troubling to me that I froze out of fear.

Of course, I look Scandinavian, not Middle Eastern, so the man’s comments were directed to my new friend, but for a brief second, I felt was it was like to be disliked because of something as insubstantial as heritage.

And it was frightening.

By now, all we could hear was the sound of this man’s voice, very clearly continuing on this path of racial discrimination.

My new friend gave me a hug, and left the bar after sharing a few words with the bartender.

I sat there in silence for a while, thinking about the Radical Inclusion principle which should have protected my friend from racism.

But didn’t.

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