“Groover” this noun has a few meanings. I will concentrate on the one that says that the groover is a person who grooves.
“A groove” and “to groove” relates to either situation or action that is enjoyable, that fits someone perfectly, something that gives you satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, happiness.
Additionally, when you tell me that “you have got your groove on” it means that you have a fantastic time dancing. If something is thrilling, inspiring, smashing, amazing – you can say that “it is groovy”.
To groove, groovy – very often those words are linked to activity, feelings associated with the music.
Based on this I think about people who are happy, firstly just being themselves, in their own bodies and secondly enjoying what they are doing. People who are short or tall, slim or chubby, young or old; the plumber, the teacher, the grandfather, the doctor, the schoolgirl, the waiter, the manager, the tennis player….. the list is endless. People who like to listen to music, even to dance and who share good values. I mixed it all up and here you are: The Groovers!
I would love people, especially children to be happy. To feel confident, to have self esteem. No matter what the shape of their body is, what color their skin is, how much they have. I would love kids to be kids, to enjoy life, to go and explore, to play with each other, to have fun. Not to spend hours on computers or mobile phones having “on line interaction/conversation” with their friends or playing video games.
From an early age we are “bombarded” with images, stereotypes of how successful, cool, pretty, popular people look like. Fairytale stories, tv, newspapers, billboards, movies, books, food packaging, music videos, posters on the streets, various ads…. hundreds of images every single day. Even our friends, families, co-workers or bosses might try to persuade us, to convince us to try to look like this or like that. We are being told that if we look a certain way we will be or it will make us more successful, happy, desirable and popular. Really?
It happens that if you do not follow those “trends” or “guidelines” you might not be accepted among your so called “friends” at school, in the neighborhood, at work and worst of all you might be bullied. Nowadays children as young as 6 are already concerned about the way they look. They are on diets; they might already be developing eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia trying to achieve something that; firstly is impossible to achieve because most of all those images of “perfect people” have been photoshopped and secondly something they really should not need or have to achieve. They wear heavy makeup, they pretend to be older, more mature than they really are. Why? They should be concentrating on school, exploring their interests, having quality time with their friends, doing sport, they should not be worrying about acceptance that is based on their image/how they look. We celebrate equality and diversity, yet somehow we all try to look the same?
Chubby people – we might forget that some people are bigger due to health problems. It’s not always because they have been overeating. So let’s not base our judgment of people on appearances. We do not know what someone might be going through. Everyone wants to have a normal life, to be accepted, to be part of the herd, the society.
In the Guardian and New York Times online, there were articles about skin color diversity in children’s books. There was also a talk on BBC radio 4 in Woman’s Hour about that. In 2013 out of 3,200 children’s books published in the U.S. less than 100 featured black people. Hugely disproportionate! What’s more and to compare; in 2003, again out of 3,200 children’s books published in U.S. there were 171 books about black people. So the number is falling. A similar situation is probably here in the UK. Why?
Now, what about “disabled” people? How do they feel in all of this, in our community? I think, a huge majority of them seem to be almost totally sidelined. There are not too many role models to follow for them. Not many of them are included in our daily or social lives, we do not see many of them working at schools, in companies or shops….Where is the sense of belonging for them? Are all our buildings, public transport etc accessible to them? Recent studies show that we “normal” people feel awkward among “them”. So awkward that we don’t even know how to talk to “them”? How bad is that? And why on earth do I keep on writing “we” and “them” – it’s simply us. Physical and physiological challenges, we all have them. To help people Scope has just recently launched “End the awkward” campaign, the link is here.
Recently I went to the main library in Birmingham and asked for some children’s picture books with disabled children/characters in it. I was shown quite a few, unfortunately they were not among ordinary picture books. They were among self help, “understanding” books. Books that try to explain, describe, define what living in a wheelchair or being autistic mean. I was surprised and sad that the library assistant didn’t know any picture books with a disabled child in it. And if they didn’t have those books in a library would they have them in bookstores? How accepted, understood, loved you would feel or how fun your childhood would be if all the books you have read when you were young were about green aliens (big exaggeration here but it’s ok)? If you could not identify yourself with just one character in the picture, point your finger at it and say:”that is me and that is you”.
As children are being influenced from everything around, even before they are born, I want them to implement and develop the feeling of happiness and self value within themselves from an early age. I want them to respect their own body, to appreciate it and to be grateful for it. To provide reassurance for you being you, authentic and unique. To respect, value and treat with dignity others regardless of the color of their skin, religion, body shape, body condition and the size of their bank account. To share positive human values: love, respect, kindness, care for others, self value and valuing others including environment, empathy, compassion, cooperation, honesty, perseverance, non violence, justice, truth. I think we should be more open minded. We should try to see the person inside not the outer image. We all have important roles to play, otherwise we would not be alive. Our lives are meaningful. We matter. We count.
I’m not perfect myself. Sometimes I still catch myself putting labels on people that are based on their appearances. But I’m trying to be better, to be prejudice free. If we all try, if we all make an effort, we will succeed. We will make this world a better place.
The Groovers: funny, catchy poem that rhymes. Part of it, if not all, can be easily memorized. It can be repeated over and over and there is a variety of things to be discovered in the superb pictures. As the words and images are so powerful, I hope that this particular poem will build appreciation and acceptance of each of us in our diversified and multicultural society. I believe the poem will help children and adults to build confidence and understanding and will encourage and help people to communicate. The aim is for it to empower you to be you just the way you are.
We are all different, we should celebrate it. Our beauty, our uniqueness. Self value, healthy lifestyle, eating lots of fruit and vegetables, quality time with other people. Let’s add music to it and groove!
When one day you read “the Groovers”, turn the pages, look at the pictures I believe altogether it will sow a big seed or increase self value inside you. It will empower, build confidence and self worth. It will help you to celebrate the uniqueness of all human beings! In that moment my mission will be completed and it will be ours – yours and my success. The best success ever! Next you have to pass it forward. It will be your turn to inspire people. You can do it. You are powerful! You are the change you want to see in other people! BE GROOVY!
Oxford, 26 May 2014