Omni Us

“The tall, middle-aged white woman with the Kensington Philadelphia accent, said that.”

You can tell something about me from the above quote. But the picture it creates in your head may be, and probably is, different from who I am.

I’m not just middle-aged. I’m the age I choose to be at any moment. I’m not tall compared to some people. I don’t live in a Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia anymore. I tan or redden in the sun, like everybody. I’m not only female. That description alone separates me from others who are not. Why separate?

When I was very young, people called me a little girl. That highlighted me being small and inexperienced, suggesting little worth and much dependency. It labeled me as not strong or, possibly, not the correct sex. Zeroing in on physical aspects can be limiting even though given in love. It drove home how helpless I felt.

Religion can separate people, a lot. Even from similar denominations. The polarizing ‘us and them’ mentality shrouds unconditional acceptance. When a faith community demands that I live, believe, think and promote exactly what they do, I feel bullied.

If you’re black, you wouldn’t say, “That black man…” You’d say, “That man…” If you’re white, you wouldn’t say, “Those white women…” Sometimes my passive-aggressiveness wants to act out when someone points to a physically aspect in referencing a person. I want to say, “Hi, I’m white Dawn who smells like onions.” (I like onions.)

When I refer to someone, I try to use “person,” “individual,” or their name. Politically correct? Or just correct without unnecessary information that may skew opinion?

The pronouns “he” and “she” are still ingrained in my speech, writing and thinking. But I’m trying to be more inclusion. Not just to be nice but to progress my relationships. That’s also good business. It grows me personally and professionally. It’s all selfishness on my part.   

“Us” and “we” could end polarity if used as a general reference. It may work better than “them” or “they” because it reminds us that we can be included in every human situation. It forces us to consider the other perspective. Even in the case of an antagonist. But this could be problematic in children’s literature. That audience hasn’t had time to mature enough to realize that “us” isn’t being used in a concretely inclusive way. They may not be able to distance themselves and understand that we all have antagonistic abilities, and that to choose not to accept a villain’s thoughts, acts, or speech is the point. 

Instead of altering or adding to our lexicon, what symbol could represent “he” “she” “him” and “her”? “They” and “them” is a step in the right direction but like “us” and “we” these are confusing and awkward. My first thought was an interrobang glyph. Suggestions should be inclusive and stay away from stereotypes and negativity. I wonder how an audio book would read an omni-symbol.     

Any other suggestions for a word or symbol?





  1. Wow, Dawn! I am so sorry that I can't think of any words that might help you in this situation. It's probably because I'm a grammar geek and have pronouns and their [old] uses still hammered in my head. That and maybe I'm too concrete to think of new terms that may work better. Good luck with this endeavor. I'm truly interested to see what you come up with or learn. Keep me in the loop. All best, my dear!

    1. Thanks Victoria. I was riffing off the word "they"/"them" that has been accepted to mean one person without referring to gender. I'm still trying to get used to this pronoun in its new meaning. I'm sure I'm not the only one wanting a better way to reference people without pointing out what I perceive is their gender. Take care.


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