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We Don’t Talk About “Bruno”, But We Should


Across the world, students, teachers and even parents have taken an extreme liking to the song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” from Disney’s latest streaming release, Encanto.


From the song's relatable topic, and irresistible beat, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” has everyone ironically talking about just that, Bruno.


Personally, the song bore striking similarities to an experience from my time working with students. On one occasion, a group of American Indian students overheard a person without color, call them a slur. When asked what they heard, some students heard the staff member refer to the group as “scavengers”, the others overhead the group being called “savages.” Tomatoe, tomato, right? Wrong!


At Kinect ED, we have a mantra, If You Permit It, You Promote It, thus, to keep things honest and authentic, I had to confront the staff member about their comments and to my surprise, not only did they acknowledge that they had indeed used one of the phrases the students heard, they ended their apology with a statement that has stuck with me, even now, “It’s just one of those things we said at the dinner table,”.


I wondered to myself, then, if this could really be a thing? I had always known that there were certain topics you shouldn't bring up at the dinner table, but I hadn’t been privy to the list of critical conversations reserved for the dinner table.

As I dug a little deeper, I learned that not only did a hidden list exist, the list contained all the things by and large we should be talking about, not just at the dinner table, but in the classroom, in the workplace, with colleagues during training, with fellow educators in the struggle, at the school board meeting, with the equity committee on the equity committee for the equity committee.


Things like racism, stereotypes and microaggressions.
Things like sexism, gender identity and sexuality.
Things like politics, political differences and religion.
Things like family and what makes each of our families unique.

In America, there has been this growing, and innate assumption that in order to stay “united”, we can’t discuss our differences or the things that are often used to divide us as a people.


Things like racism, stereotypes and microaggressions.
Things like sexism, gender identity and sexuality.
Things like politics, political differences and religion.
Things like family and what makes each of our families unique.


But the truth is, if we aren’t talking about all the things society says we shouldn't be talking about, then what are we really talking about?


If we can’t have the critical conversations about race, how can we have courageous conversations about racism? If we can’t talk about sex, how can we start to talk about sexuality and gender identity? If we can’t talk about class, how can we begin to explore, learn and grow in our thoughts and actions around classism?


While it might be easy to emphasize the semantics, the reality for BIPOC communities, intersecting identities and communities that have historically been marginalized, is that -isms (racism, sexism, classism), racial slurs, derogatory phrases, microaggressions, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, the list is endless, but largely shaped and accelerated by a Western culture that says, White is Right and therefore, there are somethings we just don’t talk about, even if they are important.


This fine line between the appropriate and inappropriate, the right and the White, further demonstrates that we haven’t come nearly as far as we think we have as a nation, as a people.


Until we get comfortable, talking about that uncomfortable thing, the elephant in the room, the Bruno at the dinner table, we can never really begin to break bread and bond as a diverse society. We can never begin to seek first to understand, as opposed to seeking to be understood. We can never move beyond the performative acts of inclusion that we see today, and begin to truly disrupt the systems that continue to marginalize.


So no we don’t talk about “Bruno”, But We Should.







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