Babywearing International of Cleveland Inclusivity Statement
Babywearing International of Cleveland (BWI of CLE) strives to be an open community that is a welcoming for everyone. We believe that in order to be a healthy hub of babywearing knowledge, we must acknowledge that there are many issues that affect babywearers of certain backgrounds, lifestyles, religions, and cultures. As a unified community, we do not shy away from or deflect these topics. We acknowledge the disparities that exist in our babywearing community, and BWI of CLE chooses to uphold and amplify the voice of oppressed and marginalized babywearers. In order for there to be an understanding of our expected community standards, we have compiled a list of our official chapter position on certain nonnegotiable social justice issues. The below mentioned community standards are fully upheld by our chapter’s Board of Directors, educators, and volunteers. If you wish to learn more about any of the individual topics listed below, please feel free to explore our pinned post for links and articles to educate yourself further.
Topics of Inclusivity
AGE/CAREGIVER STATUS: We do not discriminate based on age or caregiver status. Anyone who cares for a child is welcome at BWI of CLE meetings and events. We strongly encourage our members and attendees to refrain from assuming a person’s role in a child’s life based on the age/appearance of the person that is with the child. We receive many caregivers at our meetings, so it is best not to assume if a person is mom, dad, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, babysitter, foster caregiver, or adoptive parent. Please be courteous and do not ask questions to others based on assumptions.
FEEDING METHODS: BWI of CLE will not partake in any aspect of the “Mommy Wars”. Comments and judgments based on someone’s chosen feeding method will not be tolerated. Formula feeders, breastfeeders, EPers (exclusive pumpers), and caregivers who receive donor milk are all welcome. BWI of CLE prides itself on teaching all forms of feeding while babywearing. As such, all BWI of CLE meetings are breastfeeding friendly. For children who are exclusively breastfed, the breast is their sole source of nutrition and comfort. Caregivers are encouraged to nurse their babies and toddlers as they feel comfortable (covered or uncovered). BWI of CLE fully supports their right to do so.
ABLEISM: People with disabilities (physical and mental) rely on the services of BWI of CLE. Ableist language and behavior is not tolerated at BWI of CLE meetings and events. While some people may feel that censoring certain words is restrictive, we recognize that words have power and language is one of the tools of oppression. We ask that you please choose your words carefully. Ableist words that are flippantly used in everyday conversation can cause serious emotional harm to others and we seek to avoid excluding anyone based on their abilities. By putting thought behind our words we can avoid unintentionally targeting our fellow babywearers and their children with disabilities. Many people have become desensitized to much of the problematic ableist language used in everyday conversation, so please be open to education and familiarize yourself with this very important issue so we do not offend out of ignorance. To learn more about ableist language, we encourage you to visit: http://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html
Ableism is more than just the words we choose to use. Ableism includes assumptions as well. Disabilities cannot always be seen. Do not assume anyone’s ability to use a certain type of carrier. Dexterity issues, fine motor control issues, motor control issues, muscle tone issues, and flexibility issues cannot always be seen from the outside. We support everyone and can meet you at the point of your babywearing need. Additionally, some of our members with visual disabilities use screen readers to access the internet. You may notice some of our educators adding [Image:] to their posts describing the image included for screen reader users and we encourage members to do the same to allow all to participate.
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS: Babywearing is as old as time itself. Caregivers from all levels of class and society have worn their children throughout history and we continue to do so today. At BWI of CLE, wearing our children is what brings us all together despite our social and economic differences. As Westerners, sometimes we tend to fall victim to consumerism and brand marketing by companies that promote their product as “the best”. At BWI of CLE we strive to overcome socioeconomic barriers and do not see the value of a carrier based on how much was paid for it. We do not tolerate bashing carriers, prices, or resell value. We encourage caregivers to bring their DIY carriers, their hand-me-down carriers, their thrift store find carriers, their “someone gave me this at a baby shower” carrier, their BST (buy, sell, trade) carriers, and their $30, $300, or $1000 carrier. We welcome you all without judgment and love to hear the stories about your fluff (babywearing slang for a carrier)! If you don’t have any carriers at all, YOU ARE STILL WELCOME AT OUR MEETINGS! BWI of CLE has a library of our own carriers and anyone is welcome to practice with our carriers during the meeting.
GENDER IDENTITY AND GENDER EXPRESSION: At BWI of CLE, we welcome caregivers who of all gender identities and expressions. We affirm any outward manifestation that best reflects one’s gender identity, including preferred pronoun usage. We do not tolerate bashing, hate speech, rudeness, or intolerance of any kind. BWI of CLE is a welcome place for babywearers of all genders.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION: BWI of CLE affirms and recognizes our LGBTQIA babywearing community. We do not discriminate based on sexual orientation and do not tolerate discrimination or hate speech at any of our meetings, events, or online forums.
FAMILY ORIENTATION: Families are made just like jigsaw puzzles and BWI of CLE delights in all of the many pieces that can make up a family. We welcome single parents, married couples, gay couples, lesbian couples, polyamorous families, adoptive families, surrogate families, common law marriage families, extended families, and all families in between. There is no judgment here and we welcome all into our space.
TONE POLICING: Many of the day-to-day interactions of BWI of CLE happen online. We have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, as well as our website and blog. There are lots of comments and discussions that occur on our sites. Sometimes when dealing with topics of social justice in the babywearing community, emotions can run high and discussions may become heated. BWI of CLE does not condone nor enforce tone policing. As stated above, language is one of the many tools of oppression and we will not silence our marginalized babywearers. Tone policing is a silencing tactic and derails the conversation from legitimate progress. It is not tolerated. To learn more about tone policing, please visit: http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/tone-policing-and-privilege/
RELIGION/PHILOSOPHY: BWI of CLE prides itself on being a community of diverse babywearers. Our educators, volunteers, and members are made up of many different religions and philosophies on life. We respect each other’s differences and do not tolerate hate speech. While we recognize that different religions may have different days that represent their Sabbath or holy day, we try to have meetings and events available for everyone at varying times throughout each month. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and any other type of prejudice or religious bigotry is not allowed at our meetings, events, or online community.
RACE/ETHNICITY/NATIONALITY: As aforementioned, BWI of CLE prides itself on being a community of diverse babywearers. We thrive on our differences. Our experiences gained through our unique cultures makes us who we are and adds to our babywearing knowledge. We do not tolerate discrimination or hate speech based on race, ethnicity, or nationality.
CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: When a dominant culture “borrows”, “adopts”, “imitates”, or is “inspired” by a disenfranchised minority people group that is not their own, it is cultural appropriation. How does this apply to the babywearing community? Unfortunately, we see it all too often with different carriers and brands. When cultural appropriation is brought to the attention of the babywearing community, the marginalized people groups are oftentimes silenced and dismissed. At BWI of CLE we seek to be a voice for marginalized communities when their ideas, carriers, prints, or patterns are “discovered” (a.k.a. stolen) by Western culture. We also encourage our members to buy from legitimate native sources when purchasing a carrier that is from outside their own culture. We believe in putting people before wraps and carriers and will not tolerate problematic carriers in our lending libraries. If you have any questions on whether or not the history of your personal carrier is problematic, please educate yourself on the history behind its making and design. Also, as a sign of respect and acknowledgement to carriers’ origins, we encourage the use of a carrier’s proper name and not its Western nickname (e.g., podaegi instead of simply “pod”, onbuhimo instead of simply “onbu” or other variations creating portmanteaus). A carrier’s name is part of its culture. When we strip down the name, we lose some of the culture and history behind it. This is an excellent primer on why cultural appropriation matters: http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/
Yet another resource on cultural babywearing: https://wrapyourbaby.com/cultural-babywearing/
A tumblr on decolonizing babywearing with a collection of information: http://decolonizingbabywearing.tumblr.com/
PRIVILEGE: Nowadays whenever someone hears the word “privilege” they automatically get defensive, shut down, and tune out any further conversation concerning this topic. One thing that we don’t tolerate is the assertion that privilege doesn’t exist. That simply isn’t true. As Westerners and as Americans we all have some type of privilege. Whether it is white privilege (or white-presenting privilege), Christian privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc, etc, (the list goes on) everyone benefits from at least some type of privilege. Some of us benefit from privilege more than others. It is nothing to be ashamed of or to become defensive about. It is simply a fact of life. However, we do encourage our members to learn how to use your privilege to stand up for the rights of others.
We encourage everyone to unpack your privilege. Some excellent spaces exist for this purpose: Inclusivity Basics: Babywearing and Beyond (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1199615880116540/)
RACISM: BWI of CLE understands that racism is alive and well and thriving in our society. We do not subscribe to theories that we live in a post-racial society. We do not condone the promotion of one race over another. Our meetings and events are welcoming for people of color (PoC) who babywear or care for a child. We recognize and acknowledge that the experiences of a babywearer of color can be vastly different from those of a non-PoC. We do not tolerate hate speech, slurs, bigotry, or prejudice of any kind.
For a more in-depth discussion on what racism is and the principles behind it, consider this link for further reading:
Some further reading on colorblindess can be found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/culturally-speaking/201112/colorblind-ideology-is-form-racism
Babywearing International of Cleveland will strictly enforce all aspects of our statement of inclusivity and will uphold our community standards. We value each of our members and pride ourselves on providing a welcoming environment for babywearing education. If you would like to educate yourself further on any of the aforementioned topics, please feel free to visit any of the links, articles, and blogs provided on the topics above. Violations of our community standards will result in a warning, a counseling statement, and possibly removal from our babywearing community. We love our carriers, but we value our people most of all.
Volunteers and Educators of Babywearing International of Cleveland
Babywearing International, Inc Nondiscrimination Policy can be found here: http://babywearinginternational.org/about-bwi/