Race, Diversity, Epigentics…

It’s ok to notice that we are different. It’s ok to celebrate those differences and equally it’s ok to notice our similarities.

Many parents would have experienced an embarrassing moment when their unfiltered child points something out in public. That guy over there has a big nose! pointing at them and their nose. And you cringe and tell them shush that might hurt their feelings.

I had this moment at our local Pak n Save. My kids and I had just left Matariki celebrations at their school and we had Ta Moko face paint that was really authentic and quite frankly awesome. I couldn’t help but notice the eyes on all of us as we walked around the supermarket. I noticed a young black child  probably around 10 same age as my son at the time look at us and then looked at his Mum, he was so intrigued. I felt as if he was itching to ask us about it. I wish he had, it would have been a great moment. I could tell he wanted to get one too! how cool! The wonder of a child. Ka mau te wehi! I’m sure this child has experienced the same stares. Someone looks at him and wonders. Where is he from? what’s he about? Considering we don’t have many people of African descent in our neck of the woods. He was staring at me and I was staring at him. My thoughts about his journey to our country on my mind. I hope they are well and happy with their life here? Maybe they’re just here on holiday? I hope to the universe that he see’s loving eyes and not hate wondering about him. I hope they celebrate where they are from and also embrace what they have gained.

So this morning i was thinking about diversity and how people can struggle to teach their children how to deal with it. Maybe you’re not sure if what you say is racist or any other ist you can think of. But what if i was to say hey! what’s wrong with being different! We are all different and that’s what makes us special. You are not being racist if you notice Billy Bob is Maori and he has brown skin. That is just stating the obvious… not racist. If you say Billy Bob is a no hoper Maori with muddy brown skin! now that! that is racist! 

What is my point? well… I use a tool in my job as a Health Coach that some people feel uncomfortable about. They don’t like that it seems to point out our differences and then groups us by our similarities. The tool uses science and artificial intelligence to profile people based on their genetics. Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, but they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence. Epigentics is not a new science and can be applied to many studies and a lot of doctors and people in the science of well being are well aware of how it is a game changer for those in the health profession. 

Why is this something that makes people uncomfortable? I think it might be because we are so worried about being on team ‘woke’ or team ‘oppressors’.  There are those that celebrate diversity and those that seek to divide us because of our differences. Fundamentalist groups exist on the fringe of our society and the rest of us sit somewhere on a spectrum of ideologies and experiences in the middle. 

A tool that divides us more? a tool that is putting us into boxes and telling us what we are? seems to take away who we are as individuals? that is troublesome… Or is it?

If what the tool is trying to achieve is to help you to live close  to your biology. It’s actually pointing out what is unique about you.  So it’s more in line with the idea of our friend Billy Bob the Maori with the brown skin.  Billy Bob also has more fat mass than some, the strength of a bear and loves his whanau usually putting their needs above his own. What if I told you I could reaffirm this for him. I could help him to see that this is where his strengths lie. I point out to him you’re these great things. You are who you are and how do we use this information to make your life better. To help you to be more well so you can continue to look after and love your whanau for longer.

Sometimes the answer lies in that child like wonder of what’s different about you and what’s the same about you? Putting people into boxes or using a tool that groups people and celebrates their unique qualities is only an issue if you subscribe to the notion that you “don’t see colour” or “all lives matter”. We are different and we are the same. 🙂