Earlier today I received an email from one of my online friends thanking me for a post I wrote on my other blog titled 8 of the Top Black Individual Blogs. She didn’t write me because she was included, which unfortunately she wasn’t because of the criteria I’d set for inclusion. She wrote because she was lamenting how rare it is to see a black person on most people’s list of bloggers they’re supporting.

This is a topic that doesn’t come up nearly enough, probably because it’s a hard conversation to have. The reality in this world is that most people will gravitate towards people they look like. I might have said gravitate towards people they have something in common with but it takes time to see if you have anything in common with another person, where as you can look at someone and either immediately feel a camaraderie or be put off for whatever reason.

Now, some people will say “hey, I didn’t discriminate; I used pure numbers.” That would be true, but once again, it will point out the discrepancy in a certain area where those within it would say they’re not being exclusionary. Well, they are, just not intentionally.

I remember reading a few tweets from someone I follow on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. She wrote that she went to a Puerto Rican event and was the only white person in the room. She also stated that she felt so lonely and out of place being there. I wrote back saying “welcome to my world on a daily basis.”

While that might seem a bit dramatic, it does show that there are times when doing what one has to do means I have to leave a part of my “supposed” comfort level and get out there to do what I have to do. Most networking events I go to has me either being the only black person in the room or one of two or three. Even with a little company, so to speak, the numbers are overwhelming. And yes, there are times when you feel the vibe that a few people are really hoping you won’t walk their way, so I don’t. I always feel there’s going to be someone who I can talk to, and I go with that feeling instead.

Inclusion, in my opinion, doesn’t mean that something is open to everyone if they so choose to show up. What it means is that you welcome everyone equally with open arms, and that you try to make your environment as open as possible to everyone. Do you have to do it? Absolutely not. But no one gets to tell me “hey, we’d interview a black person if one showed up” and tell me they’re being inclusive. Sometimes it’s up to the person hosting whatever it happens to be to openly recruit or search for diverse groups of individuals. Only then can you say that your environment is truly inclusive.

Of course your thoughts might be different than mine on the subject. That’s okay; I’m used to it. How do you see this topic of inclusion, whether it’s race, sex, ethnicity, or whatever?