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6 Degrees Ciudad de México: An amazing day of connection and conversation

On Monday, November 11, at the beautiful and vibrant Museo de Arte Popular, 6 Degrees Ciudad de México 2019 brought together over 300 people from different countries, backgrounds, and perspectives. We witnessed powerful performances, challenged each other, and learned from one another. With the assistance of simultaneous translation, we seamlessly engaged across languages with nuance, passion, and clarity on difficult and complex topics.

Together, through unique models of dialogue, and hands-on, tactics-focused sessions, we connected and talked about the reality of diversity in Mexico, the role of identity and labels, how to be more empathetic, and not only what it means to embrace inclusion, but what it means to work at inclusion on a day-to-day basis to make real change.

We discussed the vast and complex ways in which all individuals identify, where they come from, what they believe, their experiences, their histories, and the labels that they embrace (or reject). We heard how this diversity is in a constant state of evolution, and how institutions, and individuals, must constantly work to respond to this evolution with contemporary and effective methods of inclusion. We heard about real-world professional demands for this contemporary knowledge. We heard from Denise, a pediatrician, who wanted to know how to advise parents on how to teach their children about inclusion. And Veronica, a social housing worker who wanted to better understand and serve the needs of Indigenous people.

“Speeches need to become actions, so that in the streets, we can truly see a difference,” said Michelle, a 6 Degrees participant. Indeed, we examined how to move from intention to action, and how to expand the circle. We examined how inclusion means ensuring that diverse peoples have opportunities for real input and influence, not mere presence, or tokenism. We discussed how diversity is a resource so long as the infrastructure is in place that allows diverse peoples to thrive. And as the strength of this infrastructure is demonstrated, through hard data and real-world examples, diversity can be more widely embraced by those who may otherwise fear it.

6 Degrees Ciudad de México featured vibrant performances from Laura Grizzlypaws and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Mexico City that demonstrated the power of art. We saw and heard how art can inspire and create understanding across cultures. It can maintain histories, and knowledges. It can encourage contemplation among both artists and observers. It can reveal important subtleties that are often overlooked. And through all of these dynamics, even on a small scale, art can make change. “We’re all creating a rippling effect,” said Laura Grizzlypaws.

Throughout the day, the incredible value of Indigenous traditions and teachings was emphasized. Those who embrace these traditions benefit from their guidance, wisdom, and support, with environmental protection being a fundamental teaching. “What it means to be Indigenous is to be stewards of the land”, said Zoey Roy. The value of these traditions underscores the tragic and foolish attempts by colonial nations to erase these traditions, not only by stripping this value from some Indigenous peoples, but also in failing to embrace it themselves. However, Indigenous peoples and their traditions have remained resilient against these attacks. They have maintained their culture. And opportunities remain for Indigenous traditions to flourish and for all of us to benefit from them, so long as we choose to embrace them.

As Mexico, and indeed the world, experiences enormous challenges during these divisive times, collective and urgent actions are required to turn these challenges into opportunities. 6 Degrees Ciudad de México 2019 provided the forum to develop these actions, and to reveal these opportunities. But this inaugural event was only the beginning of this forum in Mexico, and the continuation of a conversation that is truly global.

Related: See photos from 6 Degrees Ciudad de México