How much brilliance are we sidelining with our systems?

I’ve enjoyed following the American writer and journalist Anand Giradharadas this year, because he’s so on-point in taking down corruption and the mega-rich and scrutinizing the system we’re all living in. I normally would take a wide swerve around economic analysis as if it was rotting roadkill, but his take is so feisty and fascinating… I find it invites me to edge closer and closer…

He wrote a piece at the end of May reflecting on the end of the plague, which kind of annoyed me, because, calling COVID-19 the plague felt overly dramatic and sensational and because I was feeling peevish about the way COVID-19 restrictions were dragging on here, how frankly bored I have started to feel with it, and how irritating it is that now that America has declared that it’s over, they’re dominating the media narratives as if there are no other countries or experiences of enduring pandemic tedium or stress anywhere else in the world.

So, there’s the caveat.

But this statement stood out for me and has continued to reverberate:

The plague year was not only a killer, not only a terrorizer, not only a thief of dreams and work and fellowship and time.

It was also a teacher. And now, as we come up for air, it is also the time to take stock of its lessons.

I will tell you what I think we learned.

That childcare is a shared societal burden, not a private good. We learned this year how much harder it is to work, how much harder women in particular have it, how much female brilliance we sideline, when we make childcare a luxury product.

Here is the bit:

…how much female brilliance we sideline when we make childcare a luxury.

This is at the heart of re-organizing our systems, so they’re more diverse, more fair, more equitable, more inclusive.

Because, until we do, we are sidelining huge amounts of brilliance, due to maternal status, skin colour, first language, sexual orientation, whatever other ways we hinder people, forcing them to squander all of their vital energy navigating a system that doesn’t honour them – finding childcare, or combatting daily acts of racism or trans- or homophobia, or rebuilding their energy after another microaggression.

We just can’t afford to lose the input of that brilliance.

What about, if we change that sentence to “how much indigenous female brilliance we sidelines when we act as if safety of mind and body is only for white bodies”. How much energy have indigenous women had to expend just trying to carve out, or recover from breaches of, their personal safety, when, they were once recognized as sacred, as the life-givers, as the very centre of life.


It is inherent in us all. Shiny beings. Scratch your surfaces and there’s radiance beneath.

Imagine a world, in which we let that shine…

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